Spiritual Lessons From My Fitbit

I received a Fitbit as a gift for Christmas. I knew a little about this data-collecting device you wear on your wrist—that it counts how many steps you take, tracks your heart rate, measures how many calories you expend, etc.—but I had no idea just how popular these “activity tracker” devices are.

In fact, the Fitbit and similar products (such as Jawbone UP and Nike Fuelband) are part of the “Quantified Self” movement, first proposed by Wired magazine editors in 2007 as “a collaboration of users and tool makers who share an interest in self-knowledge through self-tracking.”

Nothing new about that. Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Benjamin Franklin tracked 13 personal virtues, and Jonathan Edwards developed a list of 70 spiritually centered “resolutions,” which he vowed to read once a week.  I’m certain Socrates, Franklin, and Edwards would have worn a Fitbit had one been available to them.

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Glory Days with Max Part 2

This is the second of a two-part interview with Max Lucado on his new book, Glory Days (Thomas Nelson).

God promises to meet every need, yet we still worry and fret. Why?

I can think of a couple of reasons. We don’t know about our inheritance. No one ever told us about “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:19). No one ever told us that we fight from victory, not for victory. No one told us that the land is already conquered. Some Christians never live out of their inheritance because they don’t know they have one. And secondly, we don’t believe in our inheritance. That was the problem of Joshua’s ancestors. They really didn’t believe that God could give them the land. The Glory Days of the Hebrews could have begun four decades earlier, a point God alluded to in his promise to Joshua: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses” (Josh. 1:3). The reminder? I made this offer to the people of Moses’ day, but they didn’t take it. They chose the wilderness. Don’t make the same mistake. Joshua didn’t.

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Made for Another World

Another mass shooting has occurred, unleashing unspeakable grief on the victims’ families, profound sadness for the rest of us, confusion and anger for our nation. Frustration, too. Why does this keep happening? There’s a quick answer, at least for Christians, though it’s not very emotionally satisfying: broken humanity, immersed in wickedness, does bad stuff. C.S. Lewis, in his classic book The Problem of Pain, makes this point when he writes,

When souls become wicked they will certainly use this possibility to hurt one another; and this, perhaps, accounts for four-fifths of the sufferings of men. It is men, not God, who have produced racks, whips, prisons, slavery, guns, bayonets, and bombs; it is by human avarice or human stupidity, not by the churlishness of nature, that we have poverty and overwork.
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In Between the Best and Worst

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Charles Dickens’ first line in his classic A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most famous in all of literature for a very good reason. Every person in every era in every part of the world knows what it means, even if they’ve never read the book (which applies to just about everybody, including us).

Not only is the line true, it’s disquieting. It’s one of those universal truths you acknowledge but wish were not the case: The relentless parade of human achievement that makes our lives better and longer is offset at every turn by the ongoing plight of human misery. Often, the contrast comes in a moment.

Something very good happens to you, and then you check your phone to scan the headlines and a picture of a two-year-old Syrian refugee laying face down on a beach slaps you across the face and makes your heart ache. And once again you are reminded of Dickens’ famous first line.

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In This Day and Age, Evangelism Is Spelled: A-P-O-L-O-G-E-T-I-C-S

On Saturday morning I woke up to find God’s Crime Scene ranked as the #1 Best Seller on Amazon’s list of “Evangelism” books. I will admit I was excited and humbled, but truly surprised. Saturday was the first day the book was available to the public, and prior to this publishing date I saw it was doing well in pre-sales in a variety of Amazon classes. God’s Crime Scene had been listed in the #1 “Hot New Release” spot in the Apologetics, Physics, Metaphysics and Philosophy categories at one time or another in the weeks prior to its release. It is, after all, an apologetics book that utilizes scientific and philosophical evidence to make the case for God's existence (from the perspective of a homicide detective), and I was delighted to see it was doing well in those expected categories. But evangelism? I really didn’t anticipate people would see it as an attractive alternative to the many other titles more traditionally written as evangelism books. But the early success of God’s Crime Scene may simply be a reflection of a new and important reality: In this day and age, evangelism is spelled A-P-O-L-O-G-E-T-I-C-S.
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Not Opposed to Effort: Solutions for Better Discipleship (part 2!)

(This post is the 5th and final blog in a series about the nature of discipleship in our churches today.)

 

Making disciples is what the Church was made by God to do. In this series I explain why we aren’t doing it well (Read it here)  and two things that stand in our way (read about them here—Roadblock #1: the Christian message that is too easy to be good, and Roadblock #2: we have traded acts for facts).

Not Opposed to Effort: Solutions for Better Discipleship

(This post is the 4rd blog in a series about the nature of discipleship in our churches today.)

 

In the first post of this series (Read it here) I argued that the American church’s misunderstanding of the phrase “grace is enough” causes us to miss out on what it truly means to be disciples of Jesus. 

To right the ship, we need to understand two roadblocks that prevent us, and others, from following Jesus into the life of discipleship we were created for.

True Greatness

I have always been fascinating by big buildings, especially really tall ones. The Empire State Building is my all-time favorite, but I also admire the iconic Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco and Chicago’s Willis Tower (formerly the Sear Tower). My dream would be to someday visit the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 160 stories and 2,716.5 feet the world’s tallest skyscraper.

On our recent trip to Israel, I wasn’t expecting to see any tall buildings, or any really big buildings for that matter. The Dome of the Rock is impressive, mainly because of that golden dome that dominates the “skyline” of Jerusalem, but mostly you see very old buildings that are more important for their age and place in history than for their size.

Of course, that was before I learned about Herod the Great, known by that name, not for his reputation as a King, but for his overwrought ambition to conceive and develop some of the most impressive building projects of the ancient world, or any world for that matter. Put all of those tall buildings I mentioned into one portfolio, and they wouldn’t begin to match the construction genius of Herod the Great.

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Not Opposed to Effort: the Second Roadblock to Meaningful Discipleship

(This post is the 3rd blog in a series about the nature of discipleship in our churches today.)

 

In the first post of this series (Read it here) I argued that the American church’s misunderstanding of the phrase “grace is enough” causes us to misrepresent the Christian life and miss out on what it truly means to be disciples of Jesus. 

To right the ship, we need to understand two roadblocks that prevent us, and others, from following Jesus into the life of discipleship we were created for.

Not Opposed to Effort: The First Roadblock to Meaningful Discipleship

(This post is the 2nd in a series about the nature of discipleship in our churches today. Click here to read the first post.)

 

In last week’s post (Read it here) I argued that our misunderstanding of the oft-used phrase “grace is enough” causes us to misrepresent the Christian life and miss out on what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus. 

We have a shallow view of grace and an incomplete definition of discipleship.

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