Malestrom: An Interview With Carolyn Custis James

Who gets to define what it means to be a man? Pop culture? Church culture? Jesus? Evangelical thinker and author Carolyn Custis James has spent the last two years examining these questions, and she’s now calling Christians to the urgent task of recapturing God’s vision for men. The title of her new book, Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Current of a Changing World (Zondervan, June 2015), alludes to the dangers of whirlpools in the open seas, maelstroms. She chose this powerful title to help readers grasp the destructive and disorienting forces that took root as humans turned away from God’s original vision for men.

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What Proximity Is Worth

This post contains excerpts from a piece in mereorthocoxy.com.

Being a blogger and writer on the Internet, there are many amazing people from all over the world who I “know” and have occasional online exchanges with. On rare occasions I get to meet them in person at things like the Q Conference, and it’s a delight for which I am very grateful.

But more and more I see that the relationships that matter most are the ones right in front of me: My wife, church, neighbors, co-workers, the members of the life group I lead, the college students I teach or mentor. These are the people who inhabit my incarnational reality, who show up in my daily and weekly rhythms, who know me in an integrated way. These are the people I grow with. If any of the ideas I gleaned from Q are to develop into good-advancing action, it will be in collaboration with these people.

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Learning Grace and Love from a Baby

Justice is 16 months old now. His personality is beginning to reveal itself and I'm starting to see glimpses of the man God created him to be. He's observant and pays close attention to detail, noticing nuts and bolts, light bulbs and wall clocks. He's relational and playful with our friends’ kids. His greatest joy is to pick up handfuls of dirt which he then meticulously transfers to a nearby location only to drop the dirt, watching its granules slip slowly between his pudgy baby fingers. He's full of life and joy and I absolutely love being his momma.

He's also full of opinions and never hesitates to tell my how he really feels. Like, when he kicks his legs at turbo speed in protest to being carried indoors after so many outside adventures.

Sleep Baby Sleep

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

I haven’t slept in over a year. Some days I am tempted to tape my eyelids open. It’s my son Justice. He’s just not a sleeper. If you’re a mom you know just how many sleep “experts” there are out there and varying opinions of how to help your baby sleep through the live long night. Have you read author Ava Neyer’s take on sleep training? It’s hilarious because it’s true – no matter what the so-called experts say, some babies just don’t sleep. End of story.

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It's in the Simple Things; Or is it?

How clearly the sky reveals God's glory!
    How plainly it shows what he has done!–Psalm 19:1

It’s not uncommon for my son Justice, to wake up from his nightly slumber, clapping his hands and grinning at the start of a new day. From his crib, his baby browns scan his room, his whole face smiles as he glances from his toys to his pictures and room décor.

Throughout each day, he’s likely to dance with gusto to his favorite Motown hits playing in our home. While running around outside, he waves to helicopters flying overhead and behaves as a mocking bird when the crows perch themselves in the tree above, caw-cawing along with them. He flails his arms with excitement at the sight of food he so enjoys to eat. And he gets the giggles when it rains.

Recently I said to a friend, “It’s in the simple, everyday things Justice finds his greatest joy.”

And then it struck me like an Easter bonnet on a church lady.

Simple.

Are the birds, rain, the sun and moon, all creation, not to mention huge, heavy, metal objects that defy gravity and fly through the sky, simple? Or could it be I have lost the awe in such wonderful things?

I’ve come to realize it’s officially a sad day the moment I consider it simple the moon perfectly hanging in space or water falling from the sky in all shapes and forms.

Job also lost awe in the day-to-day acts of God. Granted, Job was in a much different situation than in my life, however, Gods response to Job is a response to us all. 

Read what God once upon a time told Job:

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

Tags | Family | About God

Learning to Delight in the One who Delights in Me

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Psalm 37: 3-6

I used to read this passage and only have eyes for, "the Lord will give you the desires of your heart."  How wonderful I thought. God wants to give me the desires of my heart! I seemed to subconsciously ignore the part about delighting in the Lord and trusting him. Details...details.

Before I had my son, I delighted in things like

  • a good sandwich
  • a well brewed cup of coffee
  • a leisurely walk on the beach
  • a pistachio chocolate bar
  • a mason jar full of freshly made juice
  • the feel of the southern California sun on my face
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Tags | Family | Delights | God | love

Resting in His Arms

Of all of the things that come with being with a mom – the mommy brain, sleepless nights, cuddles and snuggles, drool, poop and oh so much more – one of my absolute favorites is when my 13 month old Justice, crawls up into my lap, tucks his arms in against his one-pack-Buddha-belly and falls asleep resting on me.

Justice has a sleepy song he sings to himself just before he fads into slumber. Well, calling it a song is a bit of stretch; he sounds more like a creaking door, in need of a serious douse of WD-40. He creaks and creaks until at last he relaxes and settles in for a good nap on his momma.

And I love it! I often wonder what he’s thinking as he sings his creaky song and zero’s in on sleep.

If you’ve been in Christian circles long enough, you may be familiar with those who admit guilt over falling asleep while praying, especially at night. Maybe you’ve experienced this. This is bad theology.

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Talk Like TED or Move Like Martin?

I have been doing research on what makes a good speech, mainly because I have been asked to speak at a Biola University Chapel. I enjoy speaking, but usually I’m in front of a class or a Bible study or a group of little kids, where excessive hand motions and a few jokes sprinkled throughout are enough to hold interest.

Speaking in front of a group of several hundred college students, whose attention span is usually limited to 140 characters, will require more than those limited skills. I will need to develop a different strategy. So I’ve been studying how to give a talk like they do at those TED conferences.

If you don’t know TED, you should. TED is an organization that showcases experts in various fields (Technology, Entertainment, Design—TED) talking on fascinating topics successful people find interesting. TED hosts live conferences throughout the country, but most people access the talks for free through TED.com. More than a million people a day watch TED Talks online.

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Cambridge, England

When I was a student, living in the United Kingdom, I was asked by a family friend to track down the gravesite of one of their relatives. The site was located in the World War II cemetery, right outside Cambridge, England.

After an hour or so, I found the site. I then knelt down and took a photograph, so that I could send the photo to the family friend (for which they were grateful). But, as I was kneeling in front of this site, I paused to look and up and suddenly noticed that I was kneeling amidst a sea of white crosses, all with someone's name on them, and all a reminder that sometimes loved ones sacrifice their life for kin and for country.

You may not think of visiting a cemetery, if you happen to be in England, but every single name is connected to another name that is not known and not written on the gravesite. In other words, someone lost and someone loved and often it's a both/and. When we love, we will get hurt. Why? Because real love gets dirty and messy and under one's skin. And that visit to the cemetery remains a vivid memory because part of it got to me.

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Conversations About God (Part 1)

Nobody likes confrontation and nobody likes to be rejected, which is why I think so few people talk about God except when they’re in church, or when they post comments under a fake name in response to a blog they disagree with on some religious topic.

Truth is, face-to-face conversations with people are much more effective than communicating with others through social media or email or even over the phone. Yet this is precisely where most Christians have the hardest time when it comes to talking about their faith. What if you have a conversation with someone about God and they take offense or reject you outright? Neither option is a very pleasant prospect, so we end up talking with our neighbors and co-workers and relatives about the weather or sports or whatever political topic is in the news, and we reserve our God conversations for other Christians.

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