What am I supposed to do with this?

Once upon a time, I was handed an egg, two matches, and a paper cup full of water. Since this was early in the morning and I was on a campout which I knew was designed to test some of my skills and adaptability, I knew it was breakfast.

I wouldn’t have guessed one could boil an egg in a paper cup of water, but I did. Then I ate breakfast.

While that morning I was pretty sure what do do with what I was handed, I am often confused, or at least unsure, what to do with what I’m handed.

I mean, of course, things I am handed figuratively more than literally.

I am, like you are, probably, bombarded with claims and memes and “facts” about this or that. Some of them are true, actual, and valid, some of them are not.

What I really wonder, though, when such things are shared, is “What am I supposed to do with this?

You might ask the same thing of me. That’s only fair.

Here’s what I want when I share something with you, or give something to you: a reaction, a response; interaction. What do you think of this?  Do you agree? why or why not?

If you have any doubt, please feel free to ask me: “What am I supposed to do with this?”

Experiments in Honesty – Book Review

experiments in honestyI read Steve Daugherty’s Experiments in Honesty as my first blogger review book in a long time. What a great choice to get back on that horse with! Full disclosure: I received a free copy of the book based on my promise to blog a review of it. The content of the review is entirely up to me.

The advice offering part of my brain seems more acutely willing to weigh in than it has for many years. There were, of course, the years of early adulthood when, as Mark Twain might have observed, “I still knew everything.” I was eager to dole out advice then.

Though nostalgia and seeing 60 coming on faster than a speed limit have apparently resurrected a propensity in me to offer advice, solicited or not, I have taken Steve Daugherty’s practice in this book under advisement.

In other words, sharing insight drawn from my own experience and observation comes across better than “Ok, now, here’s what I need to teach you: listen up….”

Experiments in Honesty is the opposite of a preaching practice I’ve come to notice lately. Some preachers actually parathensize the phrase “you listen to me here” throughout their messages.

If I’m not already listening to you, telling me to do so will not make me start in the middle of a message.

Daugherty, starts from the other side. This book of full of rich stories plumbed from a hunger and thirst for righteousness. The reader shall be filled, if only he or she follows along.

Perhaps I am struck because I see so much of myself in his stories. When he compares his response to feeling hunger, “I’ll make myself a sandwich” to his wife’s, “I will feed the family, because if I’m hungry they probably are, too.” caught me gently off guard and exactly where it should. Guilty as charged. Yet I wasn’t condemned in my guilt; I was drawn towary this book that is about looking inside. It offers a way to see and understand and grow and recognize that me simply trying to become someone else is the opposite of the point of the gospel.

You’ll find yourself in Experiments in Honesty, and it’ll be a you you want to find, and a you you want to grow. It’ll make you want to know yourself and God better; not because “you better, or else!” but because you are both worth knowing better.


I have been gamified

Screenshot_20180423-093933Gamification is a thing. Does it belong in church, in the life of Jesus’ disciples?

To the left is a screenshot of gamification in action. My favorite bible app, Youversion, offers this kind of encouragement to open the app daily.

I have to admit, this works on me.  You might notice that, according to the screenshot, my longest streak was, at the time, 51 days.

Youversion is not the only place I go to read the Bible.

Gamification isn’t subtle, but it isn’t judging, either. I have to tell you, as I see the “current” number climb, I am a bit more encouraged to remember to open the app.

Some may think this is improper motivation to read the Bible.  To them I say, guilty as charged.


I shouldn’t need the minor dopamine hit of seeing numbers climb and occasional stars flying across the screen to “reward” me for opening the app. I shouldn’t need any outer motivation at all to open the Bible and read it.

But sometimes I do. And sometimes it is just enough of a reminder that, having then opened the scriptures, my motivations about other things for the rest of the day are improved.

I think I might like the idea of gamification after all.


I agree with Sarah Huckabee Sanders

One of the challenges of blogging about an event a few days after that event is saying something new or different.

I am going to assume you’ve read or heard or both about the Lexington, Va. restaurant that refused service to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

I am not going to wade into the specific event or arguments on either side of it.

Instead, I want to lift up one sentence from Ms. Sanders’ tweet. This sentence is

Her actions say far more about her than about me.

I agree with this. I believe this is a true statement not only for Ms. Wilkinson and Ms. Sanders, but for all of us.

My actions say more about me than about you, or anyone else.

Your actions say more about you than about anyone else.

Do you agree?

By the way, IF this is true for others, it is also true for you. It is not something you can just choose to use to explain away other people’s actions.

But if you do, then, well, that says more about you than about them.

The limits of being Born Again

Physical growth seems to follow automatically from physical birth.

Not so, spiritual growth.

Jesus told Nicodemus very clearly in John 3 that

“I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.”

Jesus doesn’t really explain the metaphor, except to say that we must be born of “water and the spirit.”

These 2 births aren’t exactly identical. There are limits to every metaphor, right?

I suppose one might argue that however growth, either physical or spiritual, requires care and nourishment.

I still think there are limits to the analogy.

Consider, for instance, the story of Jesus restoring sight to a blind man in Mark 8:22-26.

Jesus could just as easily have pronounced him healed, but, instead, he spit in the dirt, made mud, and put it on the man’s eyes.

Do you see anything?” Jesus asked.

The man replied that he did, but the people looked like walking trees.


So Jesus touched him again, and this time his sight was restored.

Following on the idea that spiritual growth doesn’t automatically follow from a spiritual birth as it seems physical growth does from a physical birth, I want to suggest this:

Perhaps we need a second touch.

Jesus’ first touch clearly made a difference in the man’s life, and in his eyesight. But he couldn’t see clearly.

I know that, over the years, I’ve learned to see things differently than in my first few days after accepting Christ.

As I continue to submit to Jesus’ touch, I pray my sight might continue to improve.


How many does it take?

A friend of mine won’t drive in one of the Mid-Cities because he got a ticket there once.89-Traffic-Tickets

Another friend had a bad experience with a city inspector once regarding a small repair job on his backyard fence. It required a permit. Why does a city require you to get a permit to repair your own fence?

I swore off pediatric dentists for years after taking my first child to one who, it seemed, built a rapport with children by strapping them into the dental chair.

Here’s the challenge of living life that way, though: how many people does it take to convince you to give up something completely?

Some of us have met one person of a particular faith and read that person’s behavior or intentions onto the entire faith.

Do you live your faith in a way that you’d want someone to do that with you?

Some of us have read something about a country, a city, a generation of people, a sport, a book, a band, you name it, and formed a bias based entirely on one experience.

And that experience doesn’t even have to be our own.

I don’t always give a good first impression, so I hope others will be more gracious with me than I sometimes am with them.


The only burger that ever changed my life

IHOP is changing their name to IHOB. “Burger” over “Pancake,” they think, will create some buzz and hopefully traffic and sales.

I’ve had a lot of burgers over the years. In fact, I had a really good one last night at Milo all day. I like burgers

But only 1 burger ever changed my life.

I read in USA Today this morning that IHOB’s move is referred to as a “spray and pray,” in the marketing world. Spray some new thing out there and pray it works.

If it includes prayer, it gets my attention. IHOB is praying you’ll try and like their burgers.

The “spray and pray” thing also describes an evangelism model used by many churches and Christians. Spray some message out there, and pray it’ll stick somewhere.

I’ve had a lot of burgers, but only one of them ever changed my life. And it didn’t change me by pray and spray.

It was McDonald’s. Specifically, McDonald’s 4757 in Spring. Also specifically, owner-operator Jeff Scott.

I showed up for orientation at the time I’d been told, only to find out everyone who would have led my orientation was in a managers meeting.

It so happened that Jeff Scott was there, so he started my orientation with a lot pick-up. So the owner-operator walked the lot with me and we picked up trash. Both of us picked up trash.

He explained how important the customer’s experience was, and that it started on the approach to the store.

McDonald’s went on to change my life. Much of what I learned there about Quality, Service, Cleanliness, and Value have deeply impacted my call and my ministry.

A name change didn’t do it. “Spray and pray” didn’t do it. But 1 burger has made a big difference in my life.