Sunday, June 29, 2014

Two-Minute Drill

Summer Reading

My son recently graduated from elementary school.  It was a surprisingly emotional moment.  I was overcome by how much we have both grown since he began kindergarten.  His graduation gave me a moment to sit back and reflect on the fact that we made it through several milestones that at times seemed impossible to obtain.

This was also a hard year for us and I was ready for the chapter to be over.  I noticed that my influence over him was beginning to wane.  He used to listen a little better and talk back a little less defiantly.  The call from the teacher that usually comes in mid-May when he was thoroughly tired of school, actually came in October.  Friends were beginning to become his most important relationships.  Things that used to be easy - like my job, homework, and sports - also seemed very draining now.  My son and life were clearly changing.

While in many ways I feel a little relief because we are on the downswing of at least his primary education, I am also pretty scared.  I wonder, is he ready?  Does he know what's about to hit him?  Does he know how easy it is for him to make one decision that could ruin the rest of his life?  The temptations he will encounter as he gets older could reap huge consequences.  Then the panic sets in.  I need more time.  More time to warn him about all the dangers out there.  More time to teach him about the importance of character, empathy and humility.  More time to be the primary influence in his world.   

The Two-Minute Drill to Manhood
John Croyle speaks to this exact fear in The Two-Minute Drill to Manhood, a biblically-centered guide to helping prepare our sons for manhood.  I enjoyed the football analogy in the preface, which describes the timeline of a football game and how winning a game can all come down to the final two minutes.  As parents, the last few years we have with our children in late high-school are also crunch time. The two-minute drill is almost impossible to execute effectively if the team doesn't put in the time it takes to practice it before the game.  So, while I'm not yet in the two-minute drill, now is the time to practice going over the tools I think he needs to be successful.  If we practice enough hopefully when he is out in the world and has just a few minutes to make that decision that will make or break him, my son will be ready.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Interview with Spence Shelton, Author of #PeopleofGod

The People of GodI had the awesome opportunity to ask Spence Shelton, author and Spiritual Formation Pastor at The Summit Church, a few questions about his new book with Trevor Joy, The People of God: Empowering the Church to Make Disciples.  Below are his reflections on the importance of this book and the growing movement to plant churches around the country and world.

What is your primary responsibility as Spiritual Formation Pastor at The Summit Church?

We joke that my title is nice and vague so that I can do anything I want and call it "spiritual formation." Kind of like the utility infielder of the pastoral team.  In reality though, I give my time to developing and maintaining the discipleship of our adults here at the Summit Church.

What prompted you to work on The People of God with Trevor Joy?

The book was the product of a friendship that started a few years ago over a cup of coffee and commiseration about how in the world to faithfully make disciples in two very similar church contexts.  The more we talked the more we found we had in agreement.  But on top of that, Trevor is an incredible leader who I've learned a lot from.  God has gifted him with an incredible ability to raise up other leaders and through that build a faithful and effective discipleship ministry.  For me, writing with a friend who had such a great gift was like a win-win.  It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot from him in the process.

The Summit Church and other churches have very active church-planting ministries.  Why is that important at this time?

An emphasis on church planting stems out of a belief that the healthiest thing for a community is a thriving local church.  On top of that, history shows us new churches are more likely to reach and engage non-Christians than established ones.  So I'd say it's important for every generation.  When you think about it, many of the churches we all look to as experts today were young anonymous church planters just trying to figure things out as they went.  I believe the best thing we can do for advancing the gospel around the world is investing our resources and energy into this generation's church planting endeavors.

Is there a connection between this book and the movement to plant more churches?

Absolutely!!  If we are going to see a serious awakening in the west, and see unreached peoples engaged with the gospel around the world, we need to have that in mind when we build small groups.  We call our new leaders "small group planters" because we want them to begin to see the connection between this step they are taking and the step to take that around the world. Just in the past three years we've had hundreds of small group members leave our church to be a part of church planting teams around the world.  Unless we build it into the fabric of our discipleship, it will remain a little more than a sermon point.

What do you hope people with take away from The People of God?

What you believe always drives what you do.  So I've got two hopes:
  1. I hope this book helps people love the church God loves so much.
  2. I hope it empowers small group leaders and church leaders to make disciples in their local contexts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


You have a family.  You have a story. Jesus did too. Can't wait to learn more about His family tree. #FamilyofJesus coming July 1!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Building Character

Lunch Reading: June 15-21, 2014

When my son was younger, I would daydream about him being a star athlete, skipping grades because of his obvious genius, or some other worldly fantasy.  After living a little and seeing a lot, I decided I would settle for him just being a good kid.  There was a time in the last school year where I made him carry around an index card with Galatians 5:22-23 on it with the hopes it would make him think twice about some of the things he did.  The experience made me completely reevaluate the most important qualities he would need to make it in this world.

Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and LoveCharacter is a premium today.  People can have everything and be very successful, but the lack of character will always catch up with them (we've seen many falls from grace that prove this to be true).  A person can also be of humble means, but stand out in a crowd because they are the salt and light

So in my quest to build character in my son, I'm going to pick up a copy of Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love by Bill Courtney to read this week.  In the book, Courtney "shares his convictions on the fundamental tenets of character, commitment, service leadership, civility, and others that, in his decades of success as an entrepreneur and educator, have proven to be the keys to a winning and meaningful life and career."  I'm hopeful that the stars will align at work and I am able to see Courtney talk about the book at the Heritage Foundation this Friday (details here if you're interested)!

In My Spare Time
Wall Street Journal - Last week I resolved to read or at least skim the paper at least once a day.  It didn't happen.  This week, I recommit!

Believing God: Day by Day - A year-long, daily devotional that is modeled after the book, Believing God.  Great daily reminders regarding the importance of "active faith" in our daily walk.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I'm so excited to be a part of the #FamilyofJesus Bible Study launch.  In Family of Jesus, author Karen Kingsbury dives into Jesus' family life and community.  She uses scripture to bring to life the people who had such a great influence on Him and were key to spreading the gospel after His death.  The book is due out July 1, 2014.  I look forward to sharing more about this study!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Beautiful Mess

Lunch Reading: June 8 - 14, 2014

I had an incredibly intense week. 

Stress at work felt like it was at a fever-pitch.  I recently began a new job which gives me the opportunity to do a lot of new things or things I haven't done in a long time.  There is definitely a learning curve.  I love a good challenge, so in many ways the work is enjoyable.  It is also very stressful.  I changed my schedule to work 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., so I wake up early, too.  Something happened this week so that by Thursday the challenge felt more like an attack and the sleep deprivation didn't help. 

To add to it, my son graduated from elementary school this week.  At first, I was pretty nonchalant about it thinking this is just the first of hopefully many graduations.  When the celebration began with reflections on the personalities of each student and a slideshow of their years at the school the tears started flowing.  As I watched the pictures of my son and his friends from Kindergarten to Fifth Grade go by, I realized they weren't the only ones who grew up.  I matured and developed almost as much as they did, just in a different phase in life.  We were all graduating and going on to the next season.

A Beautiful Mess.  When I saw the title of this new six-week Bible Study, I thought it epitomized my life.  For every beautiful thing, there is the correlating mess that goes with it.  A new job comes with ups and downs that make it hard to see the greatness of the opportunity.  The joy of motherhood comes with a range of emotions and workload I could not conceive before becoming a mother.  This week, I am going to preview the study with hopes of hosting a summer Bible Study with neighborhood friends.  Prayerfully, it will gives us some things to reflect and pray about as we take a breather during the summer.  I hope to have more good things to say about this new venture and study in the future!

In My Spare Time
Wall Street Journal - I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal for some time.  Unfortunately, I can count on one hand how many times I read it in the last three months.  This week, I'm resolving to spend time reading (or at least skimming) it on a daily basis.  I feel disconnected from current events and there is quite a bit going on in the world.  Hopefully, this will keep me well-versed on the issues of the day.

Believing God: Day by Day - A year-long, daily devotional that is modeled after the book, Believing God.  Great daily reminders regarding the importance of "active faith" in our daily walk.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Lunch Reading: June 1 - 7, 2014

I'm taking my time with this book...  It focuses on many issues that have been swirling around recently in my mind.  I can't tell you how many times I have come across Matthew 28: 19-20 in the last few weeks.  This scripture warms my heart every time I read it.  I want to run out and go join a mission to a far away country and spread the love of Jesus.  It makes my daily grind seem futile in the grand scheme of our calling. 

The People of God opened my eyes to the fact that living out the Great Commission doesn't have to be done in exotic places.  I can actually fulfill this calling in my own backyard.  I live in a beautiful neighborhood near a university.  It is a quiet little bedroom community that is a wonderful refuge from the city.  The area changed greatly over the years.  Families moved out and new families moved in.  Crime increased in the surrounding area.  Jobs are few. The neighborhood struggles to preserve its "bedroom community" label amidst the changing landscape.  It has done so with a strong core of community leaders.

New leaders are also emerging.  New leaders who are excited, energetic and love our little corner of the world.  But how do we build the bridge to keep it all together?  I feel strongly that everyone must be at the table making our neighborhood great.  Old, young, black, white, single, married, renter, owner, the list goes on and on.  Who is great enough to bring all these groups together in loving community?  The #PeopleofGod.  

In My Spare Time
 #ChildrenoftheDay - This is a amazing study on 1 and 2 Thessalonians.  Beth Moore really goes deep in this one.  Paul's letters are inspiring and so relevant to the issues that many of us struggle with today. Check out Lifeway Women All Access for great excerpts and video clips from the study.

Believing God: Day by Day - A year-long, daily devotional that is modeled after the book, Believing God.  Great daily reminders regarding the importance of "active faith" in our daily walk.