Follow Jesus to the Ends of the Earth

You Are What You Love

Our habits matter, we all know that. We strive to feed our good habits and we struggle to starve our bad ones. In the book You Are What You Love, the author, James K.A. Smith, explores how habits influence us spiritually.

For example, love is a habit. We can get better at loving others. It takes practice. We don’t need more information that tells us to love others as Jesus has been quite clear on that. We do, however, need to put this love into action, we need to develop new habits in our lives that help us to love.

Smith says it this way, “Discipleship is a rehabituation of our lives. This means that discipleship is more a matter of reformation than of acquiring information.” Walking with Jesus and growing more like him means developing new habits.

Smith also compares discipleship to a type of immigration, moving from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. “Such an immigration to a new kingdom isn’t just a matter of being teleported to a different realm; we need to be acclimated to a new way of life, learn a new language, acquire new habits – and unlearn the habits of that rival dominion.”

Many of the habits that influence us are things we don’t give any thought to – where we shop, how we worship, what we listen to, what we watch on TV, who we’re around. All these influence our faith and growth and warrent our attention.

This is a good book, a deep and thoughtful book, and certainly one I recommend for someone wanting to give consideration to those quiet and habitual ideas and practices that shape our hearts.


My Favorite Travel Staples

I’ve had the privilege of traveling all over the world, and I’m leaving for a short trip again this week. Wherever I go, I take a couple things with me to eat, usually some trail mix and these Sunbelt Chocolate Chip granola bars.

Maybe it’s the “bakery-fresh taste,” but I find that there is nothing better in my backpack. You never know when you may need a snack and sometimes nothing is available, or even worse, sometimes only pressed seaweed is available. At those times, granola bars come in handy.

Add in a Coke (which can be found anywhere in the world) and I’m good to go. At least until dinner.

Join us to influence the students of the world!

Dawn and I both value involving more people in missions, which is one reason why I wrote the book GO, Following Jesus to the Ends of the Earth and continue to blog. It’s also why we led a group on the Camino de Santiago this fall. We want to involve many, many more people in this great adventure.

As the year ends, it’s a good time to give to the people and causes that are close to your heart. As you evaluate your contributions, would you consider joining with us by giving to the work we are doing around the world?

You may not know, but on staff with Cru we raise all the necessary funds to cover everything we receive, including salary, health care, retirement benefits and ministry expenses. As we look forward towards 2018 we see needs that will require an increase in our funding, including increased opportunities to open new ministries internationally.

As you would guess, taking advantage of opportunities requires financial resources. Any gift you give helps us pursue our goal of putting the gospel within arm’s reach of students everywhere.

If you are so led, you can make a contribution through this link to CRU.

Thank you for considering our work and have a most Merry Christmas!


Thankful or Discontent?

Are you thankful this year or discontented?

I recently read a blog post from Seth Godin called “The engine of our discontent” (his is one of the few blogs I read regularly). These words struck home as I find that I can lack contentment based on what I see around me. I’ll quote his blog post below for you to read and to think about, and I highlight what is for me the most convicting section.

When TV first was adopted, it was a magical gift. The shows united our culture and the ads fueled a seemingly endless consumer boom.

Today, though, marketers have turned television into an instrument of dissatisfaction. The shows alienate many, because they bring an idealized, expensive world into the homes of people who increasingly can’t afford it. And the ads remind just about everyone that their lives are incomplete and unhappy–unless they buy what’s on offer. Worse, cable news is optimized to shock, frighten and divide the people who watch it.

Social media can amplify all of these downward cycles. It’s TV times 1,000.

Hence a middle class, millions of people who would be as rich as kings in any other time or place, that’s angry and disappointed and feeling left behind. Victims of a media regime where they are both the user and the product.

Every time TV and social media become significant time sinks in a household, pleasure goes up and happiness goes down.

The solution is simple and difficult. We can turn it off. If it’s not getting you what you need or want, turn it off for a few hours.

As we approach Thanksgiving, are you truly thankful for all the Lord’s given you, or are you in a state of discontent? Are you aware of the way media feeds your outlook on life? Of all the weeks of the year, this is a good one for us to take a few extra minutes in quiet, away from our screens, and ponder the goodness of the Lord in your life. Our entire nation has set aside a day to be thankful. Perhaps we should take advantage?

Pilgrims in the Mist

My favorite photo from our 2017 Camino de Santiago journey. Sometimes it’s not clear where we are headed, but pilgrims trust that the trail ahead will lead to the good things of the Lord.

(Thank you Beth Longtine for the amazing pic!)

That’s My King


Check out this short sermon clip by Dr.  S.M. Lockridge (1913-2000). This is my king!

Enter Through the Narrow Gate

I took this photo on the Camino de Santiago and immediately thought of the words Jesus spoke, recorded in Matthew 7:13&14:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Or, as The Message version of the Bible puts it:

Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

The way to God is vigorous and requires total attention. That challenges me, as the words of Jesus always do. Where might we be following broad, easy paths when we should turn off on the narrow road? In a world where easygoing formulas exist at every hand, our thoughtful attention to the right path requires more of us than ever.

Mistakes are the portals of discovery

James Joyce

A Japanese Kintsugi bowl, which only becomes valuable after being broken and pieced back together.

Walking the Camino de Santiago

Walking the trail

One step followed by another. Crunching along the gravel trail as the morning mists dissipate. Moisture dripping from trees. Mounds of acorns and hazelnuts lining the trail. Cafe con leche in a trailside restaurant. Shadowing dairy cattle as they move from their milking barns to the fields. Sore knees. Blisters. Trailside shrines to lost loved ones. Fellow pilgrims from all over the world. Pilgrims walking to forget. Pilgrims walking to remember. Pilgrims walking and hoping to connect with God. Pilgrims walking in hopes there is a God. Pilgrims walking who don’t believe in God, but who are drawn to this place for some mysterious reason that they cannot put a finger on. Maybe it’s God?

There’s simply no place like the Camino de Santiago. I believe it’s a “thin place,” a spot in the world where the eternal is somehow present in an authentic sense to our temporal hearts. We will go back – maybe you should consider joining us next year!

Do Your Prayers “Fall to the Ground”?

We find a fascinating description of prayer in 1 Samuel 3:19. The writer describes Samuel as he grows up in the temple under the tutelage of the high priest, Eli. The scriptures say that, the Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.

So, apparently you can pray and have your words, fall to the ground. I wonder how many of my prayers have done so? I’m guessing enough to trip over, or even enough to be buried under. How many selfish and insincere prayers never make it to the Lord? Across my lips and straight to the earth.

Food for thought the next time you pray. Try to imagine where your prayers might be going – to the Lord, or to the floor?

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