Enemies Into Friends

I am in a bit of a historical leadership mode as I read and reflect on great leaders from the past. Thoughts like these are resonating with me: Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? Abraham Lincoln Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive […]

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With Malice Toward None

There are few statements that are as brilliant and beautiful as this one. Every word counts. Every word has meaning. Together they create something far greater than the sum of the parts. It finally fell upon Abraham Lincoln to put an end to this evil, even though the cost was extraordinary. In his second inaugural […]

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See You at the Pole

On Wednesday morning, all across the United States, high school students will be gathering for one simple thing: to pray. To pray for our nation. To pray for their schools. To pray for their friends.  At some schools, great crowds of teens gather. At other schools, it may be just a few.  See You at […]

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Fire!

  Pascal (pictured here) was a famous mathematician, scientist, and philosopher when he converted to the Christian faith. He had a profound conversion experience. So powerful, that he recorded a few brief words and sewed them into a secret pocket in his jacket to carry them close to his heart – always. He began with […]

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One Early Morning …

My heart was strongly encouraged by this thought from an unknown author: All of the darkest, saddest, most terrible nights our world has ever known are counterbalanced by ONE EARLY MORNING in Israel when holy angels rolled the stone away from an empty tomb and proclaimed, He is risen! He is risen, and if you […]

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Worth Thinking About …

God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering. -Augustine That’s it! It is my story and my journey, as it is yours. Making sense of suffering. Finding hope in the hard times. Just worth thinking through. May you have strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Pastor Brian

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My Friend Invited Me

I had a conversation this past week with a person who has been coming to Living Word since this spring. She told me how much she loves coming to church. I asked her how she found out about the church and she told me that her friend invited her. Her friend invited her! It is […]

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What Jesus Might Say

Here is where I ended the post yesterday: My friends know Jesus would also speak powerfully, prophetically, and pastorally to the issues of our day. They know Jesus would speak theologically, spiritually, ethically, and morally to the issues of life. What kind of things might Jesus say? This post, like the two previous ones, is […]

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Political But Not Partisan

I could also say: Principles but not policies. And that is part of our problem! The Bible is loaded with beliefs, values, ethics, morality, and spirituality. The Bible is loaded with indicatives (statements) about who God is and what God wants. The Bible is loaded with imperatives (commands or instructions) from God that tell us […]

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Christians and Living in Our Messy World

So how should we think about Charlottesville … and Barcelona …. and North Korea … and Washington D.C … and … and … and … It’s messy! It’s confusing! It’s full of conflict, pain, division, and anger! And we live in that world. We are affected by what happens in the world. Sometimes we (Christians) […]

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Softball Shoutout

LIFE TOGETHER is core for us at Living Word. Whether it is reading the Bible or smashing a softball out of the park for a home run, we love being with our friends, enjoying life with one another. Many of you probably don’t know about our men’s softball team (check it out here, they are […]

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Make a Learning Plan (Grow: Part Three)

Even though there are different personality types … Even though different personality types have definite differences when it comes to planning … Even though there is not a one-size-fits-all right-way-for-everyone approach to take … STILL . . . a plan for learning almost always beats NO PLAN. You favorite football team on game day  has […]

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Cities Are Where It’s At!

And cities are where God is on the move! Here are statistics for the amazing growth of the percentage of the world population that lives in cities. Here are statistics for the number of cities with over one million people. Here are statistics for the number of MegaCities (having 10+ million people).The world began in […]

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Romans 13 and Revelation 13

The Twin Strategies of a Missional Church Romans 13 is the positive engagement of God’s Kingdom as it spreads in the world. Romans 13 is the positive contribution God’s people make as we live as workers in the world. Romans 13 is a guide for how we live as citizens of a nation. Romans 13 […]

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Mission Failure

I always find it intriguing when the world criticizes the church for its mission failure. I recently finished a (rather) large book on global missions, Introducing Christian Mission Today, where I came across a quote from Australian sociologist, John Carroll. Carroll is not a Christian. He says there is a simple reason why the church […]

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More on Grit

The message on Sunday resonated with a lot of people. If you want to learn a lot more about grit, get a copy of the new book by that name: GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. The author draws on consistent research from the fields of educational psychology, developmental psychology, and […]

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Hearing the Lord

The word SHEMA means you hear, and I mean REALLY hear! This is the great SHEMA, which means: Hear this. Listen up. Pay attention. We often talk about the importance of listening, of getting to a place of quiet attentiveness, of being still internally. Quiet. Silence. Solitude. Listening. These are beautiful and invaluable spiritual practices and […]

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C.S. Lewis on Humility

This past Sunday, Pastor Aaron mentioned in the sermon the need for a genuine humility that acknowledges we are sinners in need of a gracious and holy God. One of the workbooks of spiritual exercises I created is called What’s Gone Wrong? It is an in depth look at what sin has done to us […]

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5 Foundations for Your Faith

I am picking up on the theme of foundations from yesterday read the post here.  ONE: As the old hymn says, “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.” There is nothing more central, core, vital, and strategic than this – Christ is the solid rock on which you stand – his life, his death, […]

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5 Things I Have Learned About Laying Good Foundations

    foun-da-tion (noun): usually a stone or concrete structure that supports a building. foun-da-tion (noun): something (such as an idea, principle, or fact) that provides support for something. Watching the building construction progress at Living Word has been enlightening, especially watching all the work going on with the foundations. Almost every day I walk […]

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4 Ways That God Renews His People

Coming Alive: Renewal, Revival, Awakening! Our July sermon series is all about life. New life. God’s life. Life in Christ. Life together with others who are a part of the new community Christ is creating called Living Word Community Church. We are called out of death to life. This life is a life of flourishing. […]

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John Wesley on Salvation

Read this wonderful explanation of what is included in salvation by John Wesley, the great revivalist and founder of the Methodist church: By salvation I mean, not barely deliverance from hell, or going to heaven, but a present deliverance from sin, a restoration of the soul to its primitive health, its original purity; a recovery of […]

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The Lord!

  The LORD. When the Bible talks about God the LORD, one of the constant descriptions is the mightiness of the Lord. The Lord is the Almighty. There is another wonderful word that describes our mighty, Almighty Lord. It is the word sovereign. Sovereign and Lord are synonyms. A sovereign is a lord and a lord […]

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The Lord God Almighty

Great and marvelous are your deeds, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. Just and true are your ways, King of the Nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you. For your righteous acts have been revealed. Revelation 15:3-4 Read these […]

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When You Don’t Forgive

Here is a great insight from feisty, innovative, provocative, and always funny Anne Lamott. And it is on a spiritual theme that is of central importance for all of us. Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die. Some of the best theology we do may be called […]

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I Can’t Forgive Myself

That’s not a problem! I’ll tell you why below. I cannot even remember how many times I have had a conversation with someone about their past failures and sins and they say, “I can’t forgive myself.” I didn’t always know how to answer that. Now I do know SPECIFICALLY what to say. Before I tell […]

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Journal Your Journey

I will tell you a secret. I was not very good at it. In fact, I was quite bad. About journaling. I began journaling in 1999. I did it because I was taking a class for my doctoral studies on spiritual formation. One of our assignments was to journal our spiritual journey over a period […]

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The Good News of God’s Beautiful Kingdom

Here is a powerful thought from Michael Goheen.* I broke it into smaller paragraphs for easier reading. Jesus announces the coming of the kingdom of God. The kingdom can be characterized as the inbreaking of God’s dynamic power to defeat all that stands against his rule, and as the arrival of the comprehensive salvation of […]

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A Father’s Day Follow Up

Mentors. Role models. Stories. Journeys. Biblical wisdom. A community of friends. The empowering presence of Jesus Christ. All of this is what men* need if they are to learn how to use the STRENGTH God has given to them in ways that are full of love and grace, with the purpose of helping their families […]

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What Sears and the Church Have in Common

There are five or six blogs that I consistently read. There are another half dozen that I skim and peruse occasionally. One of the regulars is written by James Emery White, lead pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church, a megachurch in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here is a link to one of his recent posts: Sears and the Church. […]

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The End of the Beginning

Yes, you read it right. But, you are probably wondering, “Did he say that correctly? Isn’t it supposed to be, the beginning of the end?” Not in this case. The Flourishing Project has not come to an end. Our commitment to helping you experience abundant life, the real and eternal, more and better life than you […]

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God’s Word is the Way of Flourishing

    Do you know what is the longest chapter in the Bible? Your answer is: (______________). I’ll come back with the answer in a few moments. Here is my proposal, my thesis, my challenge, my invitation. You will FLOURISH when you know God, when you know his plans, his purposes, his will, his way, […]

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Why Do I Suffer?

There are three questions we are always asking about suffering. Even when we don’t realize we are asking them, we are indeed asking them. Why am I suffering? Where is God as I suffer? What am I to do about my suffering? We’ll look at the first question today and the other two tomorrow. Why […]

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4 Ways to Experience Flourishing AND Suffering

Flourishing! Suffering! We normally think of these conditions as being incompatible. I can flourish OR I can suffer. That is a mistaken way to understand flourishing. This misunderstanding is part of the fuel for what is called the Prosperity Gospel (also called the Health and Wealth Gospel or the Name It and Claim It Gospel). This biblical […]

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Suffering for the Sake of Others

Yesterday was Memorial Day: A day of remembering those who died while serving their country. Veterans Day (November 11) remembers all who served in the military, not only those who died. This post does not celebrate war. It does celebrate the greatest of all sacrifices – to give one’s life for the sake of what is loved. […]

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Make it Count, Make it Matter

5 Insights About a Life of Purpose The Purpose Driven Life (it now has a new title: What on Earth Am I Here For?) sold about one billion copies and was translated into 453 languages, including Martian. Well, that is an exaggeration, but not by much! It has sold 40 million copies and has been translated […]

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8 Ways to Deeper Friendships

What’s on your bucket list? What’s in your bucket? I hope your bucket is full of friends. If there is one single predictor of your future happiness, it is the quality of friendships you enjoy. In February and March we did a series on relationships called Life Together. Relationships are about as important as it […]

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Showing the Way of Flourishing

As we have gone through our Get Real series talking about the life of flourishing, I am reflecting on my own life. In so many ways, I believe I am experiencing that real and eternal, more and better life Jesus came to give us (John 10:10). I want the people I love to flourish. It […]

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Bucket List Goals: God Overflowing!

“I don’t believe in God, but I miss him.” What a poignantly insightful and profoundly sad opening to a memoir by the atheist Julian Barnes (Nothing to Be Frightened Of). Here is another one, only from G.K. Chesterton: “He who does not believe in God, doesn’t believe in nothing, he believes in anything.” * Now […]

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What’s On Your Bucket List?

The pleasures we pursue are high on that list! You make choices. Every day. Many of your decisions are automatic and you hardly know you’re making them. Others take longer for you to make up your mind. Some decisions are pretty small in the scheme of things (what restaurant will we dine at tonight?). Others […]

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5 Ways to Deal With Your Life Conditions

Your gender, race, ethnicity, age, geographical location, socio-economic status, education, marital status, etc. are examples of life conditions. Some of these are fixed, which means they are very hard to change. Others are in flux, which means they are very open to change, often by you. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “The grass is […]

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11 Insights on the Way of Flourishing

On Sunday, I used a word of life from Deuteronomy 30. Today, I want to give you a fuller context, additional references, and a fresh insight about The Way of Flourishing. It would be best if you had a Bible in order to look at these verses in the complete context. I am only going to […]

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Practice Makes You Better (TFP, Day 35)

At everything. Including good things. Especially the things connected with flourishing. It is striking how many principles, lessons, insights, instructions, and commands are in the Bible that tell you to put into practice something good, and strenuously avoid doing what is wrong. You get better at whatever you practice repeatedly. If you practice anger, you […]

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Psalm 36:5-10, A Vision of Flourishing

  In 1976, when I was a sophomore in college, our campus fellowship group met weekly for a large group gathering. We would spend 20 to 30 minutes in worship, have a speaker for about 30 minutes, then spend the rest of the evening hanging out (the Christian words were fellowship and koinoia). The worship music […]

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6 Suggestions on Comparisons

This is a tricky issue to address. It is virtually impossible not to compare yourself with others. And I don’t think it is always a bad thing to compare yourself with others. In fact, I think there are times when you SHOULD compare yourself with others. You just have to be careful how you do it. If […]

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This Pill Can Really Help You!

Here is a scenario/question posed by Jonathan Haidt in his book, The Happiness Hypothesis: “Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment. Would you take it? Suppose further that the pill has a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased […]

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The Negativity Bias

One of the reasons we are unhappy is because of the negativity bias. The brain is wired to notice danger more than delight. The brain is more alert to what is bad than what is good. We respond more quickly and powerfully to what is unpleasant than to the pleasurable. In fact, our reactions to […]

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Everything I Love is Killing Me

Today we are halfway through 50 Days of Flourishing. Thanks for following, reading, and reflecting on these themes. I pray you are taking slow, steady, persistent steps toward flourishing. Let’s dive right in to the idea for today. It is time for a little more good, robust, biblical theology. The title of this blog post […]

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Working Your Way to Happiness

Study after study shows two things. First, happy people are better workers. They have fewer sick days. They have higher levels of production. They have more friends where they work. Second, good work makes you happy! Isn’t that interesting … and isn’t that enticing? Let me jump on my soapbox and complain for a short paragraph. I am […]

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Psalms of Joy

Joy is a hallmark of the Christian faith. You are made for joy. You are made to find joy in Christ. Rejoicing should be as automatic and natural as breathing. Here are three thoughts from C.S. Lewis about joy: “The whole of man is to drink joy from the fountain of joy.” (The Weight of […]

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3 Reasons Devoted People Are Happier People

We had a leadership staff meeting recently where we talked about the early church being devoted to a cluster of activities and values (see Acts 2:42-47 to see the things to which they were devoted). That word – DEVOTED – hit me. It really hit me. Devoted people are happier people. Why? For three reasons (I […]

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Flourishing From Where You Are

I will tell you what I mean by flourishing from where you are by asking several related questions. What’s your starting point? In other words, what is your immediate and real life situation? Are you doing well? Are you doing so-so? Are things pretty bad? How hard and difficult or how smooth and flowing is your […]

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6 Perspectives Worth Having

Did you ever hear someone say “Perception is reality”? Well, no it isn’t. No matter how much someone insists that his or her perception is reality, perception does not make it real. And, you can ignore “real” reality with a distorted perspective. What you cannot ignore is the consequences of ignoring reality. You cannot ignore the consequences […]

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Six Quotes to Consider

  Many of you know I love to collect quotes, ponder them, and pass them on. I have collected quite a few on happiness. Here are a few for you to chew on. Which one speaks to you the most? QUOTE ONE: If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want […]

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Do You Need Tightening or Loosening?

Some people need tightening. Others need loosening. How about you? What do you need? If you are someone who needs tightening, that means your life is too loose, random, unorganized, and unstructured. And you feel it. Life is harder because you are too loose. Things are not working out as well as they should and that […]

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Identity or Image?

When I look back over the decades at the old photos I was in, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! Maybe you have had the same experience, especially when you look at the different styles of clothing and hair you tried out. When you got tired of your current look, you changed your appearance. […]

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The Real You

Do you find your “self”? Do you create your “self”? Do you receive your “self”? Or is there some combination of finding, making, and receiving? Who are you? How well do you know yourself? How well do you like who you are (and who you are becoming)? Are you comfortable being the “real you” around others? […]

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Three Ways to Energize Your Day

Energetic people are happier people and happier people choose to engage in more energetic activities. This is another simple way to flourish and be happy. Get active. Get going. Get moving. ONE: Exercise. Work out. Go on brisk walks. Join an exercise class. Do aerobics. Take 5 minute walk breaks during your work day. (These […]

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Remember, Relive, Rejoice

So, you have a wonderful experience that causes you great joy and happiness. Do you know you can go back and enjoy it once again? And you may actually have almost the same amount of happiness as you did with the original experience! No, I am not talking about actually doing it again, I am talking […]

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Live in the Present Moment

We suffer from hurry sickness  and distraction disease in our culture. We are busy and we are bombarded. We rush through the day and miss most of the beauty of those moments. ONE:  Every day is a gift – seize hold of it. Don’t believe you are entitled to it. Therefore, do what the ancients […]

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Life is Hard, Don’t Make it Harder

I don’t know when or where I first read this quote. Today’s blog title is the nicer version: “Life is hard, don’t make it harder.” The real version is a bit more sarcastic: “Life is hard. Being dumb makes it harder. Don’t be dumb.” In yesterday’s post, I talked about how thoughts and actions can shape […]

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Flanguish (or How to Make a New Word)

Let’s have a little fun with today’s post. There are always new words being added to the English language. The words below officially made it into various leading dictionaries (Oxford, Miriam-Webster) in 2016. Bitcoin: Digital currency. (I’m not sure what this is, but I don’t think I have any.) Breakfunch: A small meal consumed between breakfast […]

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Meaningful or Meaningless

When was the last time you read the book of Ecclesiastes? If you have 60-70 minutes of time, sit down and read through it in one sitting. You will be glad you did. The second verse of the book introduces the theme that is repeated throughout: “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly Meaningless. Everything is Meaningless, says the […]

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How Happy Are You?

Have you heard about the little book, 14,000 Things to be Happy About? It was written by Barbara Kipfer. It is just a list (a long list) of things that should make you happy. What is beautiful about these 14,000 things is that most of them are simple. (Sorry, there are also some vulgar ones […]

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