Personal > Digital

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Have you ever learned a lesson that you should have already known? I spent the first half of this year doing exactly that.

I have heard all my life how important friends are.  I have been taught since childhood that if I am to have friends, I must be a friend worth having. I have been told that friendship is key to a balanced life.

Yet, I have spent the first half of this year learning—or maybe relearning—that lesson.

Earlier this year, I invited a group of guys from my church to read through a book that had a huge impact on me. We now meet regularly to discuss our thoughts on the reading, as well as a variety of topics. In short, it has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.

So far this year, I have also been able to reconnect with friends that live far away. I get to hang out with one of these guys every few months or so. I only see another about once a year. Another, we can get together about every three years. Another, this was the first time in about ten years that we have been in the same room. In each case, our wives talked, our kids played, and we picked up right where we left off. It has been amazing.

But, then something hit me: everything I have done with my friends could be done—has been done—digitally.

I have been in discussion groups—online. I’m pretty sure we could have created some space for my reading group. I have ‘kept up’ with my long-distance friends and their families over the years—digitally. If you had asked me what they were up to, even in recent weeks, I would have been able to answer confidently.

But, here’s the thing…

When it comes to personal relationships, digital connection is a great supplement, but it is no substitution.

I would not trade the few hours I have recently spent with my friends for all the digital connectedness in the world. Here are a few reasons why. Continue reading “Personal > Digital”

Book Review: So the Next Generation Will Know (McDowell & Wallace)

As a Christian parent, are you concerned that your children have doubts about the faith you are passing on to them? As a youth pastor or minister, are you troubled by the apathy so many of the kids in your youth group show toward spiritual things? As a Christian educator, are you worried that you are out of your depth with the questions your students have about the Christian worldview?

Being all three, I can relate. The fact is that the generation currently coming of age, Generation Z as they are called, are living a profoundly different adolescence than even the most recent generation before them. So, how do we Christian parents, pastors, and teachers help them stay grounded in the faith and thrive in the culture?

Here’s the thing…

Thankfully, we have some help.

In their newest book, So the Next Generation Will Know (set to release May 1), renowned Christian apologists Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace offer a guide to engaging what is quickly becoming the largest and most secularized generation. Continue reading “Book Review: So the Next Generation Will Know (McDowell & Wallace)”

Mending the Secular/Sacred Split

Many Christians find themselves living in two separate worlds, one on Sunday and the other the rest of the week.

They may see their faith as an add-on that merely supplements their daily routine. The effect that being a Christian has on their lives is limited to nominal traditions and comfort in times of crisis. They do not see their Christianity as having any implications on their jobs outside of being an upright, honest, hard-working, gospel witness while doing it.

On the other hand, they may see their faith as being somehow beyond their day-to-day. Worshiping God is something done in a Sunday service. Serving God is something done in organized church ministry. They see their jobs as John Beckett describes “a second-class endeavor—necessary to put bread on the table, but somehow less noble than more sacred pursuits like being a minister or a missionary.”[1]

In other words, they have bought into the secular/sacred split, dividing all of life into a two-story house that Francis Schaeffer described decades ago. They have relegated “real world” issues and “everyday” life downstairs along with all things secular. They have confined their Christianity upstairs, as it were, with personal preference, subjective values, and everything else sacred.

But, this is a huge departure from the Christian life as prescribed in the Bible, doing everything in Jesus’ name (Colossians 3:17) and to God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31)

So, here’s the thing…

We need to mend the secular/sacred split. Continue reading “Mending the Secular/Sacred Split”

My 2018 Reading and My 2019 Goals

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John Wooden once said, “Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” I believe there is a lot of wisdom in that statement.

A year ago, I made a personal commitment to read 50 books in 2018. I am happy to report that I have achieved my goal.

Please do not read this post as a brag. I know people who have read twice that number this year. However, for me, this was a huge accomplishment from which I have benefited immensely. The only purpose of this post is to share what I have learned and encourage you in hopes that you benefit as I did.

This is my first time setting a number for books to read within a year. My purpose was twofold: not only to increase the quantity of books I read but also to improve the quality of books I read. I believe I accomplished both.

Some of the books I read were like coasting down a hill. Some were like fighting an uphill battle. Some of them have already made the list to re-read in 2019. Some I hope to never read again.

Either way, I feel as though I have taken a journey worth taking. It is a journey I plan on taking again in 2019. It is a journey I highly recommend. Continue reading “My 2018 Reading and My 2019 Goals”