Serving Millennials on the Journey Toward Significant Life
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Blogging: What It Got Right and What It Got Wrong

I’ve been writing on this space and others that were precursors to this space for about 11 years now. After graduating college I realized nearly all my favorite writers were putting their writing on their own websites and making it available for free. I was shocked! After a while of just reading blogs, I started my own, with the goal of posting something every day.

Blogs have largely been cast aside by larger journalist pages where great writers can work together to produce quality content and by social media which allows us to share life happenings and opinions much more quickly than a blog.

While I have no intention of stopping my habit of writing on this space, I recognize that doing so is fairly uncommon today, whereas 8 years ago it was the norm. So I’ve given some thought about why I’m still doing this, and why nearly all of my, what I called, “blog friends” have quit.

What Blogging Got Right

It’s a normal human desire to want to share. Share thoughts. Share life events. Before social media expanded, blogs were the easiest way to share in one confined space.

Others were drawn to blogging because it provided a space to write, for an audience. All throughout high school and college, I was a fairly awful writer. And this was for one very simple reason: I did not write often. With the goal of writing something new for my blog every day, I forced myself to become a better writer, by simply writing, a lot.

Some people are naturally good at creating through the written word, some people become better writers primarily through reading, but there is no substitute for writing in order to become a good writer.

As blogging diminishes and the web moves toward tribes of writers on websites and social sharing, how will this online space known as in the internet help produce quality writing?

In the years since publishing my book, a common question has been asked of me: how can I grow as a writer? I give the same answer every time: read and write as often as you can. For me, blogging was the necessarily carrot that kept me working on my craft, day after day.

What Blogging Got Wrong

A few years after I started blogging I first heard the term “platform” used in association with internet writing. In the years prior to this, not once had it ever crossed my mind that a blog could serve as a tool to advance a writer’s career. Shortly after this I had friends who started teaching others how to do what they did. Start a blog, write some words, do this a lot, publish a book.

Supposedly it was that easy. And a lot of bloggers did it. Including me.

But once blogging and online writing became focused on the need for supporting a platform it became work. Now you needed to get more people to subscribe. Now you needed to let people know about your writing, all the time.

You see, first blogging was about the craft, but then it became about the career.

And slowly but surely, people quit. Why? Because when you write for the platform and the career eventually it lets you down, guaranteed. But when you write for the craft, the reward is the work, not the results.

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A Year Through The Bible


If you’re too busy to read, you’re too busy.

I just recently finished a year-long Bible reading plan, for the second time in my life. It did, however, take me 13 months to complete, because I’m human. On my previous one-year read through of the Bible the reading was part of a school assignment so I’m not sure that should even count.

To read through the Bible in one year is a big commitment of discipline and time. To accomplish the goal you can’t miss more than a day here or there or you’ll fall too far behind. You also need to set aside 25 to 45 minutes every day just to accomplish the necessary reading every day.

And I have to say, I loved it.

A few years ago I had lunch with some fellow Ecola Bible College professors, which included Dr. Ron Frost. During the lunch Frost explained to us that what instructed his teaching most was reading through The Bible (here’s Frost explaining his reading plan), twice, each year, at a minimum. I laughed. Out loud. Seriously. “Who has time to read The Bible twice in one year?” I thought.

I did not have time to read The Bible twice in a year, let alone once. Or did I? I was convicted. The Word of God is more accessible today than at any other time in history, yet I’m a great example how people cherish God’s Word less and less, despite our access to it. Couldn’t I set aside enough time to read the entire Bible for a whole year?

I made the decision to read The Bible in a year (*13 months) for a few reasons:

1. As a pastor I encourage people to make The Bible a consistent part of their life, but that isn’t always true of me.

2. It’s easy to avoid large sections of the Old Testament when you choose your own reading plan.

3. If I didn’t have time to read The Bible every day, I was quite simply, too busy.

A few lessons I learned in the process of my one-year (*13 months) Bible reading

1. I’m not really that busy.

This was the big hurdle to get over. Do I have the time to read 3-4 chapters in the Old Testament, a Psalm or Proverb, and 1-2 chapters in the New Testament, every day? “No way” has always been my answer. This year I put that question to the test. And the answer was a resounding yes. Yes, I have time.

How did I make the time? I stopped doing largely pointless and meaningless things. I made less time for tv. I sacrificed some sleep. I did not need to change my life in any dramatic way. Often we feel busy, but our time is filled with purposeless activity. It’s pretty easy to give up some of those things.

2. The Bible is vast in its approach.

Poetry, narrative, prophesy, apocalypse, exhortation, encouragement, sin, redemption. There’s so much variety in the Bible. This gives us a glimpse of God and his relationship with us in so many different ways. You can’t help much worship God for the expanse of his greatness as you work through the various literary forms the Bible presents us.

3. Just as you read the Bible, the Bible reads you.

Through this variety of literary forms, we engage with more than simply words on a page or screen, but God revealing himself. Even as he reveals himself through words, those words ultimately unveil the reality of our own hearts. As Eugene Peterson says, “This text is not words to be studied in the quiet preserves of a library, but a voice to be believed and loved and adored in workplace and playground, on the streets and in the kitchen. Receptivity is required.”

Nothing has had a larger impact on my ministry as a pastor in the last year than my year-long read through The Bible. It has allowed me to draw close to God, allowing him to search my heart, and has continually provided insights into opportunities for teaching.

If you’re considering reading through the Bible in one year, I recommend the Bible in One Year website and app put together by the great folks behind Alpha. Even if you don’t rely on their devotional writing and prayers, their format for getting through the daily reading is quite helpful.

With that being said, I highly discourage you from reading on a screen unless you are willing to shut off notifications. The single worst thing you can do while reading is increase the possibility of distractions.

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Called Out Episode 008: Godly Power with Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel

called out episodes

Last year I named the book The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb as the best book of 2017. It was not only helpful in and of itself, but I found its focus on power to be especially timely. Previously on the podcast we explored the subject gone viral, the #MeToo movement, but behind that movement is how people in power have taken advantage of others. We don’t have a sexual abuse problem in isolation, we have a power problem.

As easy as it would be to point the finger at Hollywood or Washington as exclusively having a power problem, Christians are not immune to the sinful temptations power presents. In this episode I talk with Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel—the authors of The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb—about their journey to discover the Jesus way of pursuing power, and what they learned from the men and women who led them to write the book.

You can listen to the full episode below (click here email readers).

Or find the episode wherever you listen to podcasts, including:

Apple Podcasts || Soundcloud || Stitcher || Overcast

Other links from the episode:

-Jamin and Kyle’s book The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb.

-Their previous book Beloved Dust.

-You can find Jamin on Twitter here.

-You can find Kyle on Twitter here.

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Called Out Episode 007: AJ Swoboda

called out episodes (1)

This new episode of Called Out features a conversation I had with AJ Swoboda, an author, professor, and pastor from Portland. Although I’ve connected with AJ quite a bit when we were both pastoring in Portland, I also grew up int he same town as AJ. We went to the same high school, same church, and same youth group, though we were 3 years apart. Small!

I talked with AJ about how he went from being a music and drama student to a pastor, what ministry in the urban core of Portland is like, and why he’s published a book on the importance of Sabbath rest.

You can listen to the full episode below (click here email readers).

Or find the episode wherever you listen to podcasts, including:

Apple Podcasts || Soundcloud || Stitcher || Overcast

Other links from the episode:

-AJ’s new book Subversive Sabbath (out this week!)

-AJ’s church in Portland, Theophilus

-Links to all of the other books AJ has published.

-Theme music by Shoring.

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The Beauty of Lament—My Review of Sandra McCracken’s New Album

I had the unique privilege to write a review of Sandra McCracken’s latest album (out yesterday) for The Gospel Coalition. You can read the whole review HERE, but here’s the introduction:

As many as 40 percent of the Bible’s psalms could be categorized as psalms of lament. Their words pulse with protest, indignation, complaint, and sorrow, even as they contain hope. While the modern worship movement has done much good, it has largely missed the importance of lament.

Artists like Sandra McCracken help us recover this biblical tradition.

McCracken’s new album, Songs from the Valley, feels like a natural progression from her previous two studio albums, Psalms and God’s Highway. The psalms drive us to God, seeking his light in the darkness of earthly toil. They give voice to our protests and frustrations. They provide a framework and vocabulary for approaching God, even when he seems distant.

The protests and expressed frustrations of lament might seem beneath the Christian believer, but they are all over the pages of Scripture.




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The Best Things I Read This Week

1. Rachael Denhollander’s interview with Christianity Today about her courtroom appearance in front of Larry Nassar, and why she lost her church by standing up for sexual abuse victims.

If you haven’t watched the impact statement she gave in court last week, I’d start there. This interview highlights that the Gospel is not merely about forgiveness, and when we only focus on forgiveness we miss out on God’s justice. While what Rachael has to say is sobering as a pastor (“It is with deep regret that I say the church is one of the worst places to go for help”), I truly believe she has the kind of perspective on sexual assault that we must listen to.

For more background on all this, you can also check out Rachael’s editorial piece in The New York Times.

2. The increasing amount of people who struggle with anxiety has been a topic of interest for me for quite some time. You can listen to my podcast episode on the subject here. One of aspect of it that deserves consideration is what parts of modern life lead us toward anxiety, instead of away from it. Brett McCracken shares that Netflix, and its rampant use among younger audiences (including myself) pushes toward anxiety in many ways.

“When everything is at our disposal, on our timeline, and to our liking, we’ll naturally experience stress under the weight of consumerist freedom and FOMO. Will we make the wrong choice?”

3. Ministering to Millennials in a Secular Age by Derek Rishmawy. This is an excerpt from a larger book featuring different authors writing individual chapters titled Our Secular Age, released by The Gospel Coalition.

My favorite aspect of the article is how Derek pushes the reader away from a “the sky is falling” mentality toward tools for engagement: “We need to refuse the temptation to despair, or to engage in a morose, crippling nostalgia for some mythical, lost Golden Age of Faith.”

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