Tag Archives: Chuck Lawless

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar, Picture Quotes, Intriguing Film Trailers, Moral Imagination, and Freebies

Friday! The snow is melting here in Virginia. Today the sky is pale blue, still a little winterish, but the sun has a punch to it like in early Spring. Lovely entry to a birthday weekend. Yep, another year done and another digit on an age that sounds old to me, but I don’t feel it. Thankful.

Here, quickly, are my favorite finds for this week. With family in town, no time for many words, but I still wanted to share these with you. With love.

1) Beyond the Guitar – This guy creates classical guitar arrangements of themes from movies, videogames, and TV shows. Every week, he creates a arrangement, memorizes it, and produces a video – posting every week. I am amazed at his work, and his work ethic. He still does private lessons. Here are his latest two arrangements. If you love them, subscribe to his YouTube channel. Or on his Facebook page, like, comment, and share. You can’t imagine how powerful this is for his music to become known. Enjoy!

The Greatest Showman Medley

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Far Horizons

You can also follow Nathan on his Patreon page. You can become a patron as well, if you choose. Thanks!

2) Picture Quotes – We all love picture quotes, right? Especially if you’re a visual learner…that’s me. I just found this website – Lessons Learned in Life. A great source for picture quotes.Photo Credit: Lessons Learned in Life

Photo Credit: Lessons Learned in Life

3) Intriguing Film Trailers – Every season brings its new films. We have finished the Christmas release blockbusters. Now we are teased into buying tickets for the next films coming out. Three trailers this week have really caught my attention. They are listed below:

  • Beirut – a film about the siege of Beirut in 1982. Just watching the trailer was gripping. Check out the comment on the trailer. Impassioned!
  • Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot – a biopic on the life of cartoonist John Callahan. Very dark, but fascinating. Probably won’t see it on the big screen…but very intriguing.
  • I Can Only Imagine – Compared to the two very heavy films above, this one I will definitely see. The trailer informs us that it’s the story of how Christian singer Bart Millard (of MercyMe) wrote this incredibly popular song. A song written out of a hard childhood and then seeing God redeem and restore.Photo Credit: Urban Christian News

Any films you want to see after seeing the trailers? Comment below.

4) Moral Imagination –Thanks to the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, conversations on race have abounded this week. I have benefited (see how here).  We have much conflict and much change in our culture. How do we face them all? Writer Trevin Wax posted on the most pressing, most crucial issue for Christians in 2018.

In the West, the most pressing cultural issue facing Christians in 2018 is not external but internal. We suffer from a shriveled moral imagination that has led to a shrunken understanding of the gospel and a corresponding crisis of confidence in its power.

Photo Credit: Slideplayer

In order to face the external cultural pressures of this age, we must find ways to cultivate a Biblically formed imagination so that Christians can resist the powerful pull of nostalgia, see through and see past stale partisan allegiances, and reclaim the importance of character in public and private life. Only a renewed moral imagination can engage stubborn divisions of race and class with something more powerful than the resentment that currently engulfs all sides in the culture wars. – Trevin Wax

5) Freebies – If you are here, reading my blog, I know that’s no small thing. There are so many blogs out there. Thanks for reading mine. This week, I found Kristen Strong‘s blog. Hers is the kind of blog/website I hope to have one day. Chasing Blue Skies – Encouragement for Every Season of Life. Kristen is an author, military wife, mom, and encourager (obviously). She also has a dozen freebies for her readers. Take a look. Photo Credit: Kristen Strong, Mariazwire

As I write I can hear my mom-in-law talk gently to my dad-in-law, as she helps him with his pills. He has Parkinson’s and it has weathered him. She continues faithful in the “for better, for worse” of their almost 62 years of marriage. I’m so glad she could drive down for this weekend to see grands and great-grands and to help me celebrate the aforementioned birthday. What a blessing to have them with us.

Hope you also have a great weekend…whether you have a birthday to celebrate or not. Be gentle with yourself…and those around you. You just never know what a difference it could make.

Bonuses

YouTube Video – The Greatest Showman – “This Is Me” with Keala Settle – a behind-the-scenes making-of video that will knock your socks off. Do not miss this!

YouTube – The Greatest Showman – This Is Me Lyric Video – and now watch this song in the film. Whew!

Quote:Photo Credit: Dwayne Pyle

10 Really Hard Prayers to Pray – Chuck Lawless

Frozen Fog [We’ve had a lot of snow over the last two weeks – well, a lot for us. As beautiful as the snow was, the phenomenon of frozen fog, or hoarfrost, we also saw this week, is rare and magical.Photo Credit: Pixabay

5 Friday Faves – Braveheart and Classical Guitar, Inheriting Our Parents’ Traits and Trauma, Destination Addiction, Confederate Monuments, and Lunch with Seniors

Friday! Yes…the weekend is upon us and the start of Fall. Hope you’ve had a week full of grace. What a season of hurricanes and earthquakes and wars and rumors of war! We hold onto God and each other, and perspective comes much more readily.

Here are five of my favorite discoveries this week, as well as a few bonuses at the end. Hope you’re encouraged and positively emboldened in the reading below.

1) Braveheart and Classical Guitar – The 1995 Mel Gibson film Braveheart moved the hearts of all who saw it. Braveheart was an epic telling of Scotland’s fight for freedom from England into the 13th century. Historical accuracy wasn’t a goal of the filmmakers, but grandeur of the clashing battlefronts was riveting.I couldn’t watch every frame because of the medieval war violence and the grisly execution of William Wallace (played by Gibson). Photo Credit: Fanpop

My family is Scottish with both Wallace and Bruce in our family tree. When son Nathan of Beyond the Guitar arranged a medley of the beautiful James Horner soundtrack, I told him he should wear a kilt for the video… No kilt, but gorgeous themes bringing back the intense emotion of the film. Made me want to see Braveheart all over again. Photo Credit: YouTube, Beyond the Guitar

Here’s the YouTube video of Beyond the Guitar’s Braveheart. Lovely.

2) Inheriting Our Parents’ Traits and Trauma – My whole life people have told me, “You look just like your mother.” That was fine by me because I loved her deeply and thought she was beautiful.

As I’ve grown older, it’s not just looks but actions that also are a part of my link with my mom. Even though she is no longer with us, I will do things or react in certain ways that remind me of Mom.

April Dembosky has written a piece on intergenerational transfer of trauma. It is entitled Just Like Mother: How We Inherit Our Parents’ Traits and Tragedies.

Just Like My Mother: How We Inherit Our Parents’ Traits and Tragedies

Dembosky writes about a Vietnamese family immigrating to the US after enduring war trauma. She described vividly how the struggles a parent endures can be transferred to the children in the ways they also react to adverse situations and their coping mechanisms.

Love Your Neighbors – The Resilience Movie and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – Deb Mills Writer

Understanding the possibility of intergenerational transfer of trauma is not to make victims of a future generation. Understanding allows us to recognize if we have vulnerability and to set in place healthy barriers against the impact of our parents’ trauma.

My mom grew up with an alcoholic father who vented his frustrations about life on his wife and children. Mom stood against his abuse of her own mother and brothers. Her fighter responses were tempered as an adult when she became a believer (follower of Christ). Still that quickness to take offense and wariness of mean-spiritedness were reactions she had to fight. I see that also in myself.

Children of Alcoholics and Addicts Have PTSD – Leslie Glass

3) Destination Addiction – No it’s not about our next vacation, but destination addiction is very much about whether or not we can find contentment in our day-to-day life. Robert Holden, a British psychologist, writes and speaks about the pursuit of happiness.

To be honest, I’m not taken with all Holden says about happiness or contentment, but destination addiction is something to avoid, for sure. When we long for that next thing…whether it is the vacation, or next job, or next house, or even next relationship…we cease to live in the present. This addiction, like all others, is never satisfied.Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

If this is a struggle for you, and it sure has been for me at various seasons of my life, recognize it and deal with it. Sure, we can look forward to the “something new’s” in our life, but not to the exclusion of what is real and valuable and not-to-be-missed right now.

The links below are quick reads and excellent helps.

Destination Addiction – Edie Weinstein

Do You Have Destination Addiction? – Gabrielle Treanor

The Search for Happiness – a Brief Look at ‘Destination Addiction’ – Mark D. Griffiths

4) Confederate Monuments – Richmond, Virginia is a city steeped in American Civil War history…a history that has come sharply under fire recently. There has been a clarion call to take down the monuments to the Confederacy. Whether those monuments come down or not in the days ahead, the conversation spurred across cultural lines is crucial. The voices of those most marginalized by present-day racism must be heard. Five Richmond young people visited Monument Ave. recently, and their response might surprise you.Photo Credit: Richmond Cycling Corps, Facebook

Reporter Matthew Chaney‘s post revisted a Facebook post by Richmond Cycling Corps. Daquan, one of the five teenagers, wrote brilliantly their collective response on seeing the statues of Confederate generals displayed on Monument Ave.

“Everybody’s pointing blame at Monument Avenue and the statues that reside there, but those statues never did anything to me or people that I care about,” he wrote. “The only thing that ever harmed people in low-income areas is the violence that resides there.”

“Instead of using money to knock down statues that most people in low-income areas never even seen, how about using that money to improve schools, fix up the community that we see every day, or why not protest in our neighborhoods where we see violence and hate the most.”

Read the entire post as Daquan raises the more crucial issues of violence, hunger, poor schooling, and hopelessness they see every day in their Richmond community.

The monuments may still come down in the attempt to deal with the racism in this city. What is needed more is this 17y/o man’s counsel.

5) Lunch with Seniors – This is not about taking high school or college students to lunch. That would be much appreciated, I’m sure…but this is about going to lunch with those older ones in our lives. It’s what neighbor friends of ours did earlier this week, taking a 91 y/o widower out to lunch at his favorite restaurant.

Seminary professor Chuck Lawless gives 12 Reasons to Have Lunch With a Senior Citizen or a Bunch of Them. Some of the reasons include how much we can learn from those more experienced than us, how funny they can be, how they also need encouragement, and how they will sometimes pray for us.

It doesn’t take much sorting out to see the value in such an interruption to our day. Thankfully those older than us also understand the value of such times together…for them and for us. All we have to do is make that phone call…stepping out of the comfort zone of texting. So worth it.

That’s my five. How about you? Please share in the Comments something you’ve gleaned from this week. Have a weekend that replenishes your soul. Be kind to yourself and those around you.

5 Friday Faves – Replacing Your To-Do List, Unsung Heroes, Legacy, Gaslighting, and Emotional Intelligence in Conflict

Here’s to another Friday. As the heat of summer fades slowly into the cooler shorter days of fall, at least some of us welcome the change. This, like so many weeks, has had its unexpected joys and challenges. I so appreciate the wisdom, helps, and encouragements that lift and help us to stay in our lanes.

Below you’ll find my 5 Friday Faves for this week plus as many bonuses at the end. It was a rich week…hope yours was as well. Also, please share any of your finds in the Comments section. We all can happily learn from each other.

1) Replacing Your To-Do List – Leadership coach Tony Stubblebine has posted a brilliant piece on doing away with our to-do lists. He prescribes a problem-solver, thinker model of interstitial journaling. This makes productive use of the space between completing one project and starting the next. It entails jotting a few sentences in a journal (electronic or paper) – summarizing what we finished and jumpstarting our thinking on what is before us. This takes our to-do lists to a whole new level of getting things done.

Replace Your To-Do List With Interstitial Journaling to Increase Productivity

Photo Credit: The Inner Sage Australia

“We weren’t built for multi-tasking, so transitions between projects are very tough. We end up getting lost in procrastination. Even when we manage to transition quickly into our next project, our brain is still thinking about the last project. That means our second project suffers from partial attention. The science of multi-tasking says partial attention can mean a 40% or more reduction in cognitive performance. The Interstitial Journaling tactic solves all of these normal problems. It kills procrastination, empties our brain of the last project, and then gives us space to formulate an optimal strategy for our next project.”Tony Stubblebine

This article is hosted on Medium which offers Members Only reading (free membership) but it should allow you to read it on a first-time link click. That’s how I found Medium…and lots of helpful reading through it.

Tony Stubblebine – Productivity, Habits & Life iPhone App

2) Unsung Heroes – As I write this week’s Friday Faves, we have just finished our remembrance of the 9-11 terror attack and losses of 2001. Reading again about so many courageous victims and families, first responders and a nation in shock and grief helps in sorting out afresh what happened that day.

We don’t know what was the intended target of hijacked Flight 93 but we do know that several of the passengers heroically charged the cockpit. Among them were  Todd Beamer  and Mark Bingham. What courage!

“Let’s roll.” – The Real Story of Flight 93 – Ed Vulliamy

Another man I didn’t know about until this year was Rick Rescorla. He was the director of security for a very large company in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. After the first plane crashed in the North Tower, the building occupants were advised to stay at their desks, but he knew better. Rescorla got them all out as quickly as possible and returned to the building to make sure that everyone was out. He never got out with the collapse of the South Tower.

This running into danger instead of away is what we’ve come to expect of first responders, but we should never stop remembering them…or the cost they often pay.

3) Legacy – This week, seminary professor Chuck Lawless posted a thought-provoking piece on leaving a legacy – What Kind of Shadow Are You Leaving Behind?  He listed 14 possible “shadows” we cast for our children, colleagues, and friends. They include: Unbounded Love, Continual Selfishness, Material Idolatry, Genuine Faith, Committed Parent.Photo Credit: Pixabay

We cast shadows whether we plan them or not. They happen over time. Better for all of us to decide and intentionally establish what kind of shadow, what kind of legacy, we leave for those we love.

After you read his list, what would you add? If you comment, I’ll also share the ones that came to mind not on the list.

4) Gaslighting  – Have you ever heard this term? I had this extraordinary Aha moment this week when this term came across my Twitter feed. If you’ve had this experience you will find these definitions familiar:

“Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.” – Wikipedia

“Gaslighting is a colloquial term that describes a type of psychological abuse in which the abuser denies the victim’s reality, causing him/her to question him/herself, his/her memory, or his/her perceptions. The term gaslighting is also sometimes used to apply to the use of inflammatory behavior or language that provokes someone to behave in an uncharacteristic way.” – TheGoodTherapy.org Team

Gaslighting often happens in relationships when one person uses a sometimes subtle manipulation to cause the other to think maybe she/he misunderstood or over-reacted to something the former did or said. In this unhealthy situation repeated over the course of the relationship, the one being “gaslighted” can begin to distrust her/himself and even go as far as to question their sanity.

I have had this experience and it is highly unsettling.

Think of how brutal this can be for a twosome, family, or work team.

Read psychologist Stephanie Sarkis‘ two pieces below. Very helpful.

11 Signs of Gaslighting in a Relationship

Are Gaslighters Aware of What They Do? – Stephanie Sarkis

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

You’re Not Going Crazy: 15 Signs You’re a Victim of Gaslighting – Aletheia Luna

5) Emotional Intelligence in Conflict – Even people with strong emotional intelligence can find themselves off-balance when in conflict with someone. Leadership writer Marcel Schwantes gives counsel for this in 7 Brilliant Things Emotionally Intelligent People Do When Their Buttons Are Pushed.Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Schwantes encourages us to respond rather than react in a conflict situation. His seven action points follow (read more of his article for his commentary on each one).

  1. Get perspective.
  2. Take a 6-second pause.
  3. Stay humble.
  4. Try empathy.
  5. Ask the most conflict-diffusing question. [“Are you ok?” What’s going on?”….what else would you think would diffuse the situation?]
  6. Speak from your authentic self.
  7. Be the first to reach out after conflict.

Don’t miss the brief video at the end of Schwantes’ piece on 3 Simple Questions to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence.

Okay, Friends…let’s have a safe weekend, enjoy the weather, and be kind to those along the way.

Bonuses – Fascinating and worthy of their own Friday Faves slot – it was a rich week of learning and savoring what others bring to the table.

You Went to a Funeral and Then You Went Home – Courtney

Ryan JonYouTube Video – I’ve Never Met My Biological Mother

A Child’s Brain Develops Faster with Exposure to Music EducationAnita Nee

YouTube Video – The Clothing Industry Wants to Make Us Shop – More Waste – Opposing Views or Opposing Views’ Facebook page

How America’s Health Care System Got So Jacked Up – and How We Can Fix It – Jonathan Clark

Angry Men – Dealing with Fits of Anger and the Painful Fallout

Blog - Anger - beliefnetPhoto Credit: BeliefNet

Be angry, yet do not sin. Do not let the sun set upon your anger, and do not give the devil a foothold.Ephesians 4:26-27

I’d like to start a conversation about angry men. Not that women don’t get angry; sure we do. For today, though I’d like to think out loud about the frightening, threatening nature of anger in men. As an emotion, anger isn’t necessarily bad. It is a normal response to plenty of situations. We all have good reasons to be angry at times. When we turn up our anger either on ourselves or others then it becomes destructive and sometimes dangerous.

[Disclaimer: I am not an authority on this topic,  but have found the articles by the men who have written and counseled on this topic very helpful – they are linked below.]

Living with someone who strikes out at me in anger is not a daily experience, and for that I’m very thankful. However, there are strong memories of unchecked anger in my past that still sting when they come to mind.

  • I was maybe 5 years old when, one night in our home, all four of us children were sitting, huddled together on a bottom bunk, while my mom, dad and an uncle were having some sort of altercation. Mom and Dad were divorced by then, and he and my uncle were in some sort of row. I remember my dad’s face bleeding and a bloody handkerchief…and lots of frightening yelling…until he finally left our house.
  • My step-dad, who is the only dad I’ve ever really known, has always been so kind to me. He, on the other hand, was sometimes a tough dad with the boys. He struggled with fits of anger, and they were the recipients of it. As the years went by, he managed to get control of his anger for the most part. Still there are memories I wish I didn’t have, and I’m sure my brothers wish they could forget.
  • My oldest brother, who saw much more than I did of our birth father’s selfishness and our step-dad’s temper, also struggled with anger issues through his life. He had an uncanny ability to bait us, as family, into escalating arguments that left us all shaking with emotion. I learned the most about dealing with anger through trying to stay in relationship with him. Two friends, who also loved him, gave me the insight I needed to NOT take the bait and to draw down the negative emotion of our conversations. One friend told me, “Hurt people hurt people.” That one observation helped me the most with my brother. His whole life was full of hurt, some he brought on himself, some he didn’t. Before he died, a few years back, he had begun the process of healing in a lot of those areas. I am so thankful that he finally saw that friendship with family was possible. We became close friends before the end. My only regret for him was that he didn’t have time for all his relationships mended before he died. Learn from this.

[There are some other situations very close to me that are still too fresh and painful to put up here….where people I love have been terribly hurt by angry, vindictive men who were supposed to protect and care for them.]

Blog - Anger - patheosPhoto Credit: Patheos

I started thinking about this dilemma of “blowing up” anger especially in men after reading Chuck Lawless’ article 10 Steps to Deal with Anger. He offers really good counsel especially to Christian men with anger problems, but anyone would benefit from reading this article. Chuck grew up with a father who lashed out at his family in anger (he wrote about it here). Like my step-dad, his dad would later change, with God’s help…which can give hope to all of us.

Too often we downplay anger. Because it is a normal emotion, we tend to just accept it unless there is violence inflicted.  When fits of anger are typical of how we respond to frustration, disappointment, loss, or not getting our way, we need help.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law...If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.Galatians 5:19-26

Kurt Smith posted a gripping piece on his Guy Stuff Counseling blog. Married to an Angry Man – A Wife’s View of Her Husband’s Anger was taken from Kim Barnes’ article With This Rage, I Thee Wed. Her story is real and heart-wrenching. Then the comments and Kurt Smith’s responses to them are also incredibly helpful in understanding what women encounter in their anger-singed relationships.

Dear men with anger issues in our lives, please get the help you need…for your sake and that of those who love you. Often, we hear people walking away from negative relationships, but, except for when violence is present, I would support people staying together and fighting through to healing if at all possible. Still, help from counselors, pastors, or other professionals may be required for a breakthrough.

Tom Elliff wrote a small book entitled The Broken Curse, about lashing out with words and the life-long impact of such words…unless healing takes place. “Hurt people hurt people” and their weapons are sometimes words of contempt, resentment, and intimidation. Men who explode with anger have histories often of being victims of that very same kind of treatment by one who was supposed to have loved and protected them. Both the angry men and the women, children, and other men in their lives all need to examine these life patterns and work together to relate differently to each other.

Helps abound online and through various agencies…when we’re willing to face the hateful, hurtful reality of unleashed anger.

 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32

Kill Anger Before It Kills You or Your Marriage – John Piper – don’t miss this one.

Married to an Angry Man – A Wife’s View of Her Husband’s Anger – posted by Kurt Smith, Counseling Men Blog – Don’t miss the comments – story after story of women and the angry men they have loved – very helpful.

Counseling Men Blog – Guy Stuff Counseling

Brad Hambrick on Anger

Top 7 Bible Verses on Anger – Jack Wellman

7 Ways to Help Men Resolve Anger Issues – Jed Diamond

Battered Person Syndrome – Wikipedia

The Angry Heart – Biblical Counseling CoalitionBlog - Anger - Angry man - Biblical Counseling CoalitionPhoto Credit: Biblical Counseling Coalition

Friday Faves – Christmas Town, Guitar Website, Girls Who Make Cookies, Christmas List for Christian Leaders, and Quiet

Blog - Friday Faves

[Friday Faves comes to you on Saturday this week, because Christmas came on Friday. It is its own favorite day of the year.]

Happy Weekend after Christmas. My sister-in-law has already taken her tree down. For me, I draw out Christmas as long as I can without being too weird. Like with birthdays, there’s enough to celebrate to span several days, weeks or even a month. This week’s Friday Faves are colored by this. Enjoy…and please comment on some of your own favorite finds or times from this week.

  1. Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, Virginia – thanks to very good friends, we visit Christmas Town as their guests every year. Such a delightful experience – with different light displays in each “country” of Busch Gardens, accompanying music that fits that country, and shows. The food is incredible as well. This year it was very cold but we bundled up our Little Miss and took in the feast of sights, sounds, tastes, and fragrances. If you are in the area, it is a lovely Christmas tradition. You may have your own “equivalent”. I hope so. If so, what is it?2015 December - Christmas Town, Christmas, Family, Sadie, Blog 001 (183)2015 December - Christmas Town, Christmas, Family, Sadie, Blog 001 (128)2015 December - Christmas Town, Christmas, Family, Sadie, Blog 001 (161)2015 December - Christmas Town, Christmas, Family, Sadie, Blog 001 (155)2015 Dec - Christmas parties, Christmas Town, Sadie 1212015 December - Christmas Town, Christmas, Family, Sadie, Blog 001 (35)

2) Guitar Website – I wrote earlier this week about the launch of a new website. Nathan Mills is a classical guitarist who loves to teach and appreciates the classical repertoire for guitar. BLog - Nathan at guitarPhoto Credit: Duy Nguyen

He also envisions how more popular music can be rendered on the classical guitar. On his website Beyond the Guitar, he will be showcasing different pieces of music that we enjoy today – with arrangements, lessons, and mentoring to bring some of our favorite songs into the beautiful realm of the classical guitar.

Forgive me if I come across as a proud mom of this guitarist. I don’t want to be annoying, but I sure don’t want to miss an opportunity to point blog buddies to a new and lovely thing. Here is his Christmas present to us all.

3) Girls Who Make Christmas Cookies – Many of us woke this morning out of a “carb coma” from all the good food off our Christmas Day tables. I don’t make Christmas cookies but I’m glad for those who do. So hats off to you, mostly women, I’m thinking (but I could be wrong) – Christmas cookie makers. May the platter continue to be replenished until New Year’s Day…when we have to reverse the excesses of our Christmas holidays. I have some of those cookies in the freezer for 2016…Blog - Christmas Cookies - Heather TeaterPhoto Credit: Rhonda Denton Teater

4) Christmas List for Christian Leaders  – There’s a lull right now in your schedule, I’m hoping – you pastor/teacher guys. The Advent sermon series is done and the candlelight Christmas Eve service is a sweet memory. Hopefully you have whatever your heart desires over this Christmas season. We never know how to gift you leaders who we depend on through the year. Chuck Lawless gives some great ideas. Here is his Christmas List for you.  2015 December - Charlie Brown Christmas, Retirement Celebration 031Photo Credit: Charlie Brown Christmas

5) Quiet7 Ways to a Quiet Christmas – I’ll miss the Hallmark Christmas movies…and all the Christmas worship…but there’s still family time, napping in front of the fireplace…shopping all behind us. This day of Christmas…this day after Christmas, for us, is a quiet benediction. My hope for you is that quiet…that time to gather in all the best memories and sweet meaning of Christmas and store them deeply in your heart. Shhh…hear the quiet? It’s there.Blog - Quiet ChristmasPhoto Credit: LifeofaHomeSchoolMom.com

King’s College Choir – Christmas Carols 24 dec 2011

1 Hour of Christmas Music | Instrumental Christmas Songs Playlist | Piano, Violin & Orchestra

8 HOURS ✰ CHRISTMAS MUSIC Instrumental ✰ Christmas Songs Playlist ✰ Peaceful Piano Medley Carols

Wookie CookiesPhoto Credit: Hanan & KIm Hussein, “Wookie Cookies”

Helping First-Time Guests Want to Come Back a Second Time – Church Assimilation and Connection Teams

Blog - Church Connection Team - bpnews.net Photo Credit: bpnews.net

Any one of us in church was once new to that church. Such an awkward place to be. I remember just this year walking into a church gathering for the first time. It seemed everyone else knew each other and there was a general sense of easy familiarity between people. Were we the only ones new? Of  course not!

Being new is not where any of us want to stay. Trying to find a church home or just “going” to church aren’t very deep relational experiences. They are first steps to being part of a church, but you definitely don’t want to stay in that new or transient place long…or the temptation is just to not go back, or not go often…definitely doesn’t reflect what it’s like to really be church.

This is why churches need to be intentional in welcoming and connecting first-time guests. We met Ken Bevel at a conference a couple of years ago, and he introduced that term “assimilation” to us. He is a retired Marine Captain, and actor in Kendrick Brothers’ films (Fireproof, Courageous), and pastor of assimilation at Sherwood Baptist Church. He talked with us a bit about his job of working with a team who is responsible for that first-time guest – from the parking lot to “pew” to “home group” (real connection with others in the church).Blog - Ken Bevel - COnnecting[Ken Bevel (r), Pastor for Assimilation & Events, Sherwood Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia – making the guy on the left feel welcome.]

When we gather as church, extending hospitality to each other is a service we want to extend to all who join us. We’re still new as part of our church community (Movement Church) and don’t really know who’s new or if it’s just that we haven’t met them. Movement Church has a connecting team and we benefitted from it. Our strategy now is to treat those we meet, entering the building or in the hall or grabbing coffee, as if they were first-time guests. Sometimes they are…and sometimes they’ve been a part of the community for much longer than us…it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we welcome one another…with generous grace and genuine interest.Blog - Connections & Assimilation - bpnews.netPhoto Credit: bpnews.net

Churches gather in all kinds of configurations – large and small, in homes and large buildings or public places. Blog - Connecting and AssimilatingBlog - Connecting & Assimilating - bpnew.netProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPhoto Credit: House church pic is mine; other two bpnews.net

Whatever our church, we want to watch out for those first-time guests just as we honor those long-time faithful ones. What do they need? Who might they enjoy meeting there? How do we pray for them…follow-up with them?

Below are great resources to help the church set strategy to be intentional in our hospitality…to make first-time guests feel at home and want to come back a second time. Better still…to become part of who we are…a community who loves God and all those He places in our spaces.

12 Ways Churches “Welcome” Guests – Chuck Lawless

Six Simple Things a First-Guest Likes – Thom Rainer

Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Guests – Thom Rainer

Ten MORE Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Guests – Thom Rainer

Creating a Strong Assimilation System – Powerpoint – Stephen Gray

Connecting With One Another – A Step-by-Step Approach to Guest and New Member Assimilation – Thesis – Kevin Ray Milburn

Ten Church Strategies – The Assimilation Strategy

Marine Captain-Turned-Pastor “Courageous” – Ken Bevel – The “Courageous” Interview with Kam Williams

Sherwood Baptist Church

5 Friday Faves – an Apple, a Podcast, an Apologist, a List of Great Books, and Something We Can Do for Refugees

Blog - Friday Faves

1. An Apple – Honeycrisp  – my husband’s favorite – we only have them for a few months in the Fall and are glad when they’re around and especially on special. Welcome back. Blog - Honeycrisp apples - Friday Faves

2. An Apologist – An apologist is someone who makes a defense of a faith or belief. Nancy Pearcey is an educator and writer. An agnostic in her early life, she became a Christian through a deep study of God. She presents the Christian worldview in such a clear, reasoned way. The subjective, sometimes silly and sometimes sinister, arguments we hear a lot of these days, both inside Christianity and from its foes, are put to rest. I discovered her through a book review by Tim Challies and an article of her own. I was captivated by her clarity on the God I love. Desiring to know better how to both understand and rightly represent God to friends and family. So…I bought both her books and am tearing into them: Finding Truth and Total Truth.Blog - Friday Faves - Nancy Pearcey - Apologist

3. A PodcastThe Eric Metaxas Show with Karen Swallow-Prior – Lively conversation about Hannah More – an English poet and supporter of William Wilberforce’s battle against slave trade. This podcast came on the eve of Metaxas’ book release – Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness. Hannah More is one of those seven.

Blog - Friday Faves - 7 Women by Eric Metaxas

Photo Credit: amazon.com

4. A List of Great BooksChuck Lawless gives us a list of books that have had considerable impact on his spiritual formation.  I’ve read five of them – #1, #2, #4, #6, and #10.  Need to read the others.2014 May Blog 018

5. Something We Can Do For Refugees – The plight of refugees around the world moves us to act…but how? What can I really do? Marilyn Gardner has written several blogs this month with practical helps for any of us who want to intervene, effectively. Both short-term crisis care and over the long haul of resettlement. Two of her blogs were especially helpful for me: Self-Sufficiency in 8 Months – How to Settle a Refugee and Trauma-Informed Care.

As Syrian refugees continue to stream into neighboring countries and beyond the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) projects the number of registered refugees will soon reach the 4 million mark. (PHOTO BY JEDEDIAH SMITH)

Photo Credit: bpnews.net/photos

These are some of my favorite finds this week. What do you have to share? Looking forward to learning from you and enjoying your faves.

Seven Women: and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

One Strategy to Rule Them All – How to Answer Skeptics from Romans 1 – Nancy Pearcey

Finding Truth – Tim Challies’ Review of Nancy Pearcey’s Book

Ten Books That Have Shaped My Life – Chuck Lawless

Self-Sufficiency in 8 Months – How to Settle a Refugee – Marilyn Gardner

Trauma-Informed Care – Marilyn Gardner

Baptist Global Response

Is Our Yes Still on the Table? Re-Visiting What It Means for Us to Follow God

Blog - Yes on the Table“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

Over two decades ago, my husband and I put our “Yes” on the table. We have been praying and thinking a lot about this lately – is our “yes” still on the table?

As a teenager, I thrilled to the words of Isaiah’s response to God’s inquiry. “Here am I. Send me!” Sitting around a campfire with other teens, challenged about our life direction, and singing “I Surrender All“…I first put my all-in “yes” on the table. At 15, tears of joyful release washing down my cheeks, it seemed the only response possible to a God who loved me so much. Today, “all” seems different, more complicated. Or is it my heart that’s changed?

We’re revisiting our “yes”. All I can think of is Jesus’ response to His Father’s will. Hours before He would give His life for us on a cross, He wrestled with the meaning of that “yes”. Jesus, this One who was from before the beginning, part of the Triune God, sinless, and perfect, poured out His human heart to His Father:

He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”Luke 22:41-42

In that moment, He revealed two huge truths to us who follow Him. 1) No matter what God’s will is, (fill in your own blanks here), He is worthy of following. How glorious to spend our lives in His redemptive will – so much larger and full of love and purpose than we might, on our own, choose for ourselves.

2) Because of how big God is and how small we feel in our human frames, there will be times  we bend toward a different road, a cleaner path, with plenty of shade (Jonah 4:5-6). Jesus is kind to show us that struggle…yet without sinning in it.

This “yes” on the table has also been described as giving God a blank check. Essentially telling Him we acknowledge His Lordship in our lives. There are some reading this who may chafe at that. He has given us minds to make thoughtful, impactful decisions. For me, the idea of signing my name to a “blank check” and giving the checkbook back to Him is a test of my heart, and the affections and motivations of that heart.Blog - Blank Check

I love how Simon Peter responded to Jesus during a point in their journey when others left them, having second thoughts:

So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”John 6:67-69

“Lord, to whom shall we go?” – There is no other life I want apart from knowing and following the God who pursued me through Jesus . No. Other. Life.

Still, we revisit our “yes”, our “blank check” when God confronts us with a possible course change – a turn in the road that could take us away (again) from family and friends we cherish, colleagues we choose, and work we have loved. Blog - Yes on the Table (2)

We have been in this place before…and we receive it again. I may be at this desk in this place, clicking keys a year from now…or more. Or we may be in a very different place. Wherever we are, there is grace for us (and for you), and glory for God…and all will be well.

Today, again, with trembling hands and resolute hearts, we lay the “yes” on the table. Whatever, wherever, God, we are trusting You, as we’ve trusted You before (even just minutes before this) to do what only You can do with our lives when they are wholly Yours. With wet-palmed excitement, deep joy…and peace…our “yes” is Yours.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

[P.S. There will still be times that peace is shaken…it could be today…but I know from God’s Word, an old hymn, and experience that perfect peace can be ours as we keep our hearts fixed on Him. Fixed.]

A Blank Check – Randall D. Kittle

A Blank Check – A Devotion by Chris Hendrix

8 Reasons for Leaders to Give God a Blank Check – Chuck Lawless

Remembering 9/11 – and the Day Before – A Story of God and a Girl – a girl whose “Yes” was always on the table, a life gloriously lived.

Worship Wednesday – I Am Not Alone – Kari Jobe

Blog - I am Not Alone - Kari Jobe FacebookPhoto Credit: Kari Jobe, Facebook

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. “For I am the LORD your God.” – Isaiah 43:1-3

The hardest battles are the private ones. We could be surrounded by coworkers, family members, friends, yet we can’t really bring to words the terror in our hearts…the questions…the sense of loss. We are not usually overcome by such things; it’s not who we are. Yet, there are days when it seems, seems, that we are alone. Everyone else is rocking with the latest turn in life…but me. I am alone in this.

First…if you could speak, you would find others with questions and wonderings. You are not alone. Especially in the deepest places. Then, remember again: we have great and many promises that God is with us through all of where He takes us. Most importantly, He sometimes orchestrates these places of weakness for us to remember His strength. It is for us to trust Him. His desire is for us to see and manifest His glory meant for our good and for those around us. This sometimes comes through those dark, desperate times of seeming aloneness. We. Are. Not. Alone.

Yesterday, I heard a seminary professor, Chuck Lawless, teach on spiritual warfare. He reminded us, through passage after passage from God’s Word, that our battles belong to God. He will fight for us. We are not alone.

“We turn to Job when our own life hits the wall. Job 1:20 – Job worshipped. I hope if I lost everything, I would still worship God. In all this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Spiritual warfare – It’s not escaping from the battle; it’s worshipping God in the battle.  Job is in a battle he can’t win. He trusts the Lord anyway. And we must as well.

It is in our weakness that we find victory. When the noose is around our neck. When we can come to a place where we’re content with the worst…then Satan can’t affect us. We lean on God in our weakness – we lean on God. We can say, “I’m o.k. with this.” We don’t like spiritual warfare because we want to hang on to our stuff – our dreams, our idea of ourselves, our position – whatever it is. Hang on to God. Alone.”

When our job is on the line or we are facing an uphill battle in our work, when we face a devastating diagnosis or diminishing health in our elder years, when our marriage is in trouble or there seems no hope for marriage for us…whatever our situation. We are not alone.

As I sat listening to Dr. Lawless, I looked around the room and watched various colleagues walk by outside the door, and my heart filled with love for them, even more than before. We may not speak of these hard places we wrestle with in our own lives…but we know they are there for each other, because they are there for us.

We take each other to God in prayer…preemptively. Proactively not just reactively. The more we do this, the more quickly we will remember that the battle belongs to the Lord. [2 Chronicles 20:14-18] Satan would have us divided against each other, feeling on the outside of whatever is the inside, stuck in thinking we are missing whatever is the better part. Not true! God fights for all of us. Remember the Truth; cling to Him. Pray confident that we are not alone. Ever.

Blog - I Am Not Alone - cloudfront.netPhoto Credit: Cloudfront.net

“The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You” – Kari Jobe

Worship with me:

When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own

You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul.

Written by Kari Jobe, Marty Sampson, Mia Fieldes, Ben Davis, Grant Pittman, Dustin Sauder, and Austin Davis

Lyrics to I Am Not Alone – KLove

YouTube Video – I Am Not Alone – Kari Jobe – Worship Video with Lyrics

Kari Jobe Explains Story Behind ‘I Am Not Alone’; ‘God Fights for You…You Need Only to be Still’

YouTube Video – Kari Jobe – I Am Not Alone (Live)

YouTube Video – Kari Jobe – I Am Not Alone (Lyric Video/Live)  – walk through a forest

13 Truths About Spiritual Warfare for Leaders [or any of us] – Chuck Lawless

Chuck Lawless on Spiritual Warfare – Website

God is Always with Us

5 Friday Faves – a Baby, a Podcast, a Tribute, a Singing Priest, & Videos Gone Viral

Blog - Friday Faves

Another week has fairly flown, and today I’m posting a few of my favorite happenings/finds. For more serious, thought-provoking, inspiring weekly round-ups, especially related to Biblical worldview, check out Trevin’s Seven, Tim Challie’s A La Carte, or Ann Voskamp’s Only the Good Stuff.

My Friday Faves this week are smiles –  a break from a heavy news cycle.

  1. First Grandbaby – I would so put up a picture of her, but she is to be a social media-free baby for now. For those of you who are grandparents, this resonates. What a miracle babies are – to be one moment in the womb completely surrounded by protective waters, and the next a living, breathing person. So amazing! This little girl, conceived 9 months ago, and a person from that moment, and now born, has captured our hearts completely. Since I can’t show her, enjoy bits of her room. We are overjoyed.New Grandbaby 7New grandbaby 4New grandbaby 6 New Grandbaby2015 Aug Sadie 1st days at home 010

2) Kathy Lee Gifford’s Tribute to her Husband Frank GiffordOn August 9, Frank Gifford died at age 84. He was a much-respected, well-loved American football player and sports commentator. When Kathy Lee returned to her job, hosting The Today Show, a week after his death, she gave tribute to Frank in her opening comments. It was lovely – courageous in her openness about what mattered to Frank. Almost like Kathy Lee was on mission for him to get those words out. Such a professional and clearly so in love with that man. Beautiful.

3) Podcast – Eight Steps to More Effective Discipleship – Chuck Lawless & Thom Rainer – Solid teaching for any of us who desire to be faithful in following Jesus’ instructions to us, especially in a very different culture today. Just a few of the points from the podcast:

  • Discipleship is not just content delivery.
  • Committed church members used to be at church three times a week—now it’s three times a month.
  • If a mom and dad aren’t training their children, they are missing one of the most effective forms of discipleship.
  • Oddly, one of the lead metrics of discipleship growth in a church is giving.

4) An Irish Priest Sings Hallelujah to a Surprised Wedding Party – Father Ray Kelly, during his introductory remarks to a wedding party in Northern Ireland, sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. He adapted the lyrics for this special occasion. There is so much to love in this video – the creativity of this priest, the joyous surprise on this special day. If you haven’t already seen this, you will love it!

5) The Original Viral Video & Two Other Favorites – In 2004, Gary Brolsma,  19y/o man in New Jersey, posted his version of Numa Numa on Newgrounds.com a year before the advent of YouTube.com. Our kids were in their teens. This video brought instant grins for all of us and has for over 20 million viewers. Gary’s unfettered enthusiasm in lip-syncing is just adorable, as you know.

Two other videos in this Friday fave star two darling little girls. My husband has a very serious job and is a pretty serious guy most of the time anyway – these little girls make him giggle. You’ve seen these, but here they are gain. – Ella Mae and the little one who will stand up against monsters.

OK…back to work. Thanks for letting me share the joy with you today. If you have favorites to share, use the comments. Would love to learn from you or laugh with you.

Eight Steps to More Effective Discipleship – Rainer on Leadership #150 – Podcast

Kathy Lee Shares Touching Tribute to Husband Frank Gifford – Today

Singing Priest’s Hallelujah Wows Wedding Guests

Ella Mae Sings “An American Trilogy” by Elvis Presley

I’m Gonna Kick His Ask

Numa Numa

Kids React to Numa Numa