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Feature Friday

About that Horoscope App (Feature Friday 05/01/20)

I don’t know about you, but this week seemed like the hinge for my emotions during this shelter in place ordeal. In the first couple of weeks, it was adapting, innovating, and finding what needed to be done and doing it. The last few weeks have been finding new rhythms and enjoying a slower pace. But this week, I am stir crazy.

That feeling of not knowing what to do with myself has started. While I am still busy at work – planning and preparing for the future – the reality is there are days I am unsure what to be working on. It is into those aimless moments I find myself easily distracted, disillusioned, and looking for hope.

A desire for hope is engrained into us as human beings, but looking for hope in the wrong place can lead us into a more hopeless situation.

And there are a lot of “wrong places” we can seek hope from – alcohol, pleasure, food, others, experiences, and the list goes on and on. But one curious place many have turned to is an app called: Co-Star. James Emery White gives a great summary, challenge, and call to action in his article “About That Horoscope App“.

Enjoy the article and let me know what you think. As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day.

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

6 Strategies for Parenting During Covid-19 (Feature Friday 04/24/20)

I don’t know about you, but this whole pandemic thing has been a mixture of difficulty and blessing. There are many blessings I have personally enjoyed over the past number of weeks. Having a 5 week old newborn, I have gotten more time to hold, cuddle, and watch her grow. With Spring weather breaking in, I have had the joy of playing in the backyard more with my older kids than normal. Finally, I have gotten start on and complete a number of projects that would not have been touched for quite some time.

But there have also been some difficulties. All 7 of us are in the same place almost 24/7 with one another. We are all out of our normal routines, which has caused a bit more anxiety. I’ve raised my voice more than I’d like to admit. We are more exhausted it seems despite getting as much or more sleep than normal (at least with a newborn). If you are anything like us, you have had some struggles as well.

What can we do to not just get through this season, but actually enjoy and thrive with our families?

Dr. Chinwé Williams has some great news for you. She writes a great article giving us 6 Strategies for Parenting During The Covid-19 Crisis. I hope you find it as insightful and helpful as I did, #4 was relieving and encouraging to hear.

As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day – even if it’s a smaller crowd than normal around your living room. And let me know which strategy Dr. Williams outlines was your favorite and why in the comments below.

Good Friday (04/10/20)

What makes it so good? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why is this Friday, of all the Fridays in a year, “Good Friday”? What makes it any different than any other Friday? It’s just another Friday…or is it?

The United States government has at least said there is something different about it. It is a national holiday here in the US. But if you’ve ever been to or involved with any type of church at any point in your life (and even if you haven’t) the odds are you know the story of Good Friday. It’s the day that Jesus Christ died on the cross and was laid in a grave. But still the question remains and now may be even more disturbing. What makes it so good?

Why is the death of anyone, let alone someone who claimed to be God and was killed unjustly, recognized as “good”?

That is a great question. The question I remember asking when I was younger. A question countless others have asked. And a question that is implied and answered in a recent video devotional a fellow pastor friend of mine covered…check it out below!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and interactions about “Good Friday”. As always and even more joyously this weekend, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day! And I’d love for you to join us online for Good Friday and Easter Sunday services @ http://www.mvccfrederick.com.

Why Doing Theology Right Matters (Feature Friday 04/03/2020)

Guidance. I need it quite often in my life. Whether it was how to properly tie my shoe when I was 6 or how to hold a newborn baby – which I am enjoying once again. There are many things we need guidance on in life, but none more important than in our thinking of God.

This “thinking about God” has traditionally been referred to as theology or the study of God. Theology has gotten a bad wrap over the years – even in Christian circles. It has been viewed as stuffy, impractical, and irrelevant. Not only do I think there is nothing further from reality, I believe there is nothing more relevant than a right understanding of God. But there lies the problem…a “right” understanding of God.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

A.W. Tozer

There is such a thing as bad theology. And there is a lot of it going around. Why is theology, (right theology particularly) so important and imperative for our lives? Graham Cole shares 3 reasons “Why Doing Right Theology Matters“. See if you can find all three in his article and comment them below.

As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s Day (even though that is looking different for so many of us during this time). Enjoy the article and break from routine.

Photo by Eleni Apserou on Unsplash

I’ve Got Nothing, People (Feature Friday 03/27/20)

It’s been a whirlwind of events and changes the past 2 weeks. Where I live (Maryland), things went from manageable to strange to downright unexpected. And that was just the first week. In the past 5 days, non-essential businesses have been shut down, school buildings will remain closed until late into April, and if you venture out to the grocery store it feels like you stepped into an early 2000’s apocalyptic film session. These are strange times, especially if you are a leader.

The pandemic known as COVID-19 has overtaken our world and caused everyone of us to rethink so much. But as leaders, we have not only had to pivot our own way of living in multiple ways, we’ve had to attempt to lead others in doing the same. This has been no easy task. It has been down right difficult, taxing, and exhausting. Above all it has been revealing. It has shed light on some hard truths…

“We aren’t wise enough. We aren’t tech-savvy enough. We aren’t creative enough. We aren’t organized enough. We aren’t prepared enough. We aren’t smart enough. We aren’t gifted enough. We aren’t good enough.”

Steve Anderson

A fellow leader and pastor at my church reminded me of these hard truths this past week and I wanted to share his timely thoughts. Check out his full article “I’ve Got Nothing, People“. In a world where leaders are constantly trying to fix, resolve, and conquer the newest challenge (which is not a bad thing), I believe this is a timely reminder I know I needed of our own fragility and inability to solve every problem that we will ever face.

Enjoy the article, be reminded of our inability and need and may it point you to the One who meets our every and greatest need in Himself. As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day – even if it is taking a new form in this season. Stay safe, stay healthy…

How to Lead Through Rapid Change (Feature Friday 03/20/20)

It seems like this time last week my head was spinning. Terms like “social distancing”, “COVID-19”, and others were all but unheard of. Funny, how much can change in 7 short days. Ironic, how something so small (an airborne virus) can change so much. These are just some realities of our outer world, but there is also the realities of our inner world.

“Uncertainty, anxiety, hope, distress, rest, and worry are all emotions and realities of our world this past week.”

Not only has the way we are doing life right now changed in the last week (and I’m not sure we are done changing yet), my feelings and emotions have been on a roller coaster as well. Uncertainty, anxiety, hope, distress, rest, and worry are all emotions and realities I have felt in the past week. I have told a number of people “it was not until 24-36 hours ago that I was finally feeling like I wasn’t drowning in information and overwhelmed by my emotions again”. It’s been a crazy week for everyone, but especially for leaders.

Leaders have had to not only manage themselves and their own families, they have had the unprecedented battle of leading others through this rapidly changing time. The question has and may very well continue to be “How to Lead Through Rapid Unexpected Change“. Carey Nieuwhof’s article was spot on what I needed to read and allow to sink deep into my heart and life earlier this past week. As a leader, point #2 was absolutely freeing for me.

Enjoy the article. If you’re a leader in any capacity – this is a must read RIGHT NOW. Even thought it will certainly be different than it has been in the past, still be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day (albeit at a safe social distance…)

How Can You Recognize Spiritual Maturity (Feature Friday (03/13/20)

My son just turned 7 this week. 7 years old. In the large scheme of life it’s not old at all. However, it hit me one day driving him to school in the morning – he is already past the 1/3 mark toward adulthood. In less than 11 years now my son will be considered a full grown man. But that caused me to pause and ask a very important question: Will my son be mature enough to lead his own life well in less than 11 years?

That questions scares me. It puts a heavy responsibility on my heart. I know that one of my main roles as a father is to ensure, to the best of my abilities, that my son is ready to lead his own life by, if not before the age of 18.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

But there is more to maturity than simply being ready physically to live on your own. I would argue the much greater challenge is will my son be mature spiritually? Spiritual maturity is a difficult pursuit. Often times it’s even difficult to grasp what is meant by spiritual maturity. What is it I actually would want for my son (or anyone for that matter) and what would it look like if he were spiritually mature? That is why I enjoyed Jim Putnam’s article “How Can You Recognize a Mature Disciple?

Jim gives 5 great indicators for spiritual maturity. Are there any you would add? As always enjoy your weekend and if you cannot be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day (in light of the Corona Virus threat), at least reach out to another follower of God to discuss the word of God.

Why We Sometimes Prefer to Keep God at a Distance (Feature Friday 03/06/20)

That’s the newest edition to our ever growing family, Leila Grace. She was born just this week and my wife and I could not be more thankful. We truly are grateful to have her in our family and in our lives. I love looking at her, holding her, and getting some sweet cuddle time with her daily. It is a sweet thing to have someone we can hold close and desires the same from us.

However, there are times I would like nothing else than some distance from my baby girl. Most of these times are between the hours of midnight and 4am when she is struggling to sleep and I am exhausted. This is the challenge and tension of relationship: to want to be close to someone without them changing what you do and who you are. I want to be close to Leila until it inconveniences my schedule, my routine, and my life.

This is the challenge and tension of relationships: the desire to be close to someone without them changing what you do and who you are.

While we desire intimacy and closeness, the reality is the closer we allow someone to get to us, the more impact they can have on us. This is why we often prefer to keep people at a distance. This tension we feel in human relationships is often the same challenge we have in our relationship with God. Edward T. Welsh discuss this in his article and video “Why We Sometimes Prefer to Keep God at a Distance“.

I don’t know about you, but I can often desire intimacy with God while keeping Him at a distance all at the same time. But thankfully we can know a God – not one that is far off – but one that desires and has drawn near. As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day.

You Don’t Have to Like it (Feature Friday 02/28/20)

Parenting is difficult. There are pressures from within and pressures from without. My own insecurities show up daily in how and why I interact with my kids the way I do. One of those difficulties is an internal desire to have my kids (all of them) like everything we do as a family or they do as individuals. That’s because I am a peacemaker at heart.

The problem with being a peacemaker is it’s impossible to please everyone.

Trying to please everyone and ensure they like everything not only is impossible for me, it’s actually detrimental to my children. Real life is not simply doing only that which we like when we like to do it. There are things I must do everyday that I do not like because I know it is what is best for others as well as ultimately what is best for me. (Changing diapers is just one of may I can think of – I don’t like doing it, but its good for me and for my kid).

That is why Jennifer Walker’s article “Your Preschooler Doesn’t Have to ‘Like’ it” is a must read for every parent. It cuts through all the antics to the heart of the matter. While we parents what our kids to avoid tough stuff in life, the reality is those very same tough circumstances help build and develop their character.

The truth is, if we can teach our kids how to face the things they do not like, we prepare them to experience more out of life. We prepare them to push through the hard things to get to the good things.

Jennifer Walker

Enjoy the article and instead of asking the “Did you like…” question of your child, try talking about “why it’s important to still do especially when you don’t like it”. I’d love to hear what things you didn’t like doing at the moment but you can look back on now and recognize the need for doing them. As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

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