Showing posts from February, 2013

Ten tips for finding a church that has love

I have a friend who is looking for a church that has real, Jesus-like love. It sounds fair, right? Jesus said love is a non-negotiable. The only commandment he left with his disciples is, "Love one another" (John 13). 
The problem is, it can be hard to find a church with love. Churches get distracted with all sorts of other priorities (being right, getting larger, having more money, making a mark in their city, etc.). When a church gets distracted, love can erode quickly. Hence the need to look for a church with love.

This being the case, I offer a few ideas that might help anyone find a church that has love. Disclaimer: these are generalizations, so I know there are lots of counterexamples. Okay, here we go. Ten tips for finding a church that has love:

Be open to a church without a great building. The reason? Buildings often become a powerful distraction and can erode the value put on people. If a church doesn't have a great building, you won't hear them say, "W…

What do you do to prevent crying embarrassingly in public places?

I fought a battle for the ages this morning to remain on the right side of coffee shop etiquette. Here's the narration of the conflict...

This morning I'm trying to finish the Acknowledgements for my forthcoming book Luminous (IVP, late 2013). Now is my chance to say a very special thank you to all the people who have spoken into my life and encouraged me during the long and difficult process of writing. I don't want this to be a perfunctory exercise, and I want to feel these Acknowledgements as I write them.

I'm sitting at a small table next to the window at a downtown coffee shop. There is a steady flow of hipsters and professionals coming in and out of this little shop. I love places like this, since I dream of being either hip or professional. I order a coffee and settle down to write. But then, what ends up happening? I sink into the writing, and I feel the Acknowledgements, alright. My eyes well up with tears, and if I don't do something stat, I am going to s…

The church needs heretics!

Our society needs heretics. Even more so, the church needs heretics.

That might sound blasphemous, but let me explain. I'm not talking about theological heretics -- people who hold to teachings about God that fall outside of accepted orthodoxy. (One could argue that the church has benefited from theological heretics, but that is another discussion.)

I'm talking about 'heretic' as author Seth Godin uses the term in his leadership book, Tribes. According to Godin, heretics are people who challenge the status quo. They live out of an inner passion that makes mediocrity unacceptable.

Jesus was a heretic in Godin's sense. He challenged the status quo and lived out of an inner passion. The ultimate gesture was when he chased the merchants out of the temple. Every time he overturned a table, he was overturning the status quo. And his disciples connected his actions with a verse from the Psalms that expresses deep passion: "Zeal for your house will consume me" (J…

A Bible reading and devotional plan for Lent

Lent starts tomorrow! Do you have a plan? Maybe Lent has snuck up on you, and your current answer is no. I've got an idea for you, and we can all do this together. If you like the idea and want to include your friends, refer them to this post.

Lent in a nutshell
Lent is the season leading up to Easter. It has historically been a time when Christians have given up things they ordinarily have in order to focus more energy on their relationship with God. It's not a time to feel guilty. It's a time to focus more intently.

Lent officially starts on Ash Wednesday, which is tomorrow, February 13. The season ends on Sunday, March 31. That's 53 days later. Therefore, I found a 53-day reading plan to follow.

A shout-out for YouVersion
This year I am going to follow a Bible reading plan I found on one of my favorite smartphone apps, YouVersion. Don't have a smartphone? You can access YouVersion through the web at

If you don't already use YouVersion, you s…

What are we looking for?

I was reading my morning Psalm today, and I stopped in the middle of the passage, because I knew I had hit paydirt. It's a question that reveals a lot about what we are doing with our lives.

In Psalm 39, David remembers how short a human life is. He is beset by enemies, and he cries out to God to be saved from from them. Then, in verse 7, he reflects,
"Now... what am I looking for?"  What a question! Confucius is known to have said that the better questions you ask, the nearer you are to the truth. In this case, David has asked a question that gets to the core of our lives. This question centers us: what am I looking for?

Sure, I might be looking for money, influence, relationships, entertainment, and other things. But what am I looking for that gives shape to how I approach these other goods?

Jesus knew how to go straight to the center of a person. He once said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). His implied question is: wh…