Month: May 2017

How Do You Say that in English? (TFP, Day 36)

My good friend and longtime missional colleague Brian Newman and I have had some good conversations on The Flourishing Project. When I was with Brian (I know, too many Brians get confusing) in Europe 2 weeks ago, I asked if he would be interested in blogging some of his thoughts for you. He said yes, so here they are.

How Do You Say that in English?

Guest Blogger: Brian Newman

Recently, while in Holland, I was trying desperately to find the English translation for a Dutch phrase: “Tot hun recht komen.” The translation is something like this:

We desire for people to reach their full potential. But in Dutch it is MORE than “full potential.”

It’s about …

  • God’s intended purpose for each and every person in his good creation
  • Equity, that all people, regardless of race or skin color or any other difference, are meant to reach their potential
  • Seeking justice for the underprivileged

After wrestling with the phrase for a number of days and asking many of my Dutch friends for help with the translation, I realized that a world DOES capture the Dutch. I’m sure you know the English word by now. That’s right … FLOURISHING!

Psalm …

Read More

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 will get better at being angry. If you practice kindness, you will get better at being kind.

If you practice interrupting others when they are speaking, you will become an interruption pro. Do you know anyone like that? If you practice attentive listening, you will find people are drawn to you.

If you practice non-stop talking, you will become a talking machine. If you practice dialogue, you will eventually become a skilled conversationalist.

If you practice unforgiveness, you will hold grudges, lose relationships, and become bitter. But if you practice forgiveness, you will have lower stress and anxiety, more peace and contentment, and healthier (and happier) relationships.

Do you get where I am going with this?

He has shown you, O man (and woman) what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk

Read More

Procrastination Makes You Unhappy (TFP, Day 34)



It makes me unhappy. And I still do it!

You procrastinate for two main reasons. First, you put off doing things because you are very busy and some things are at a lower level of importance. They are not a priority at the moment, so you put off doing them. Maybe this is not even procrastination, maybe this is just being intentional, wise, deliberate, and strategic about your life.

The second reason is much different. You put off doing things you don’t like to do. It needs to be done, but you don’t want to do it, so you don’t do it. Not now. Not in a timely way. You decide you will do it tomorrow, or the day after, or later, or some other time, or when it is more convenient.

That is procrastination and you have just made yourself unhappy. You have a moment of relief at not having to do something that you don’t want to do, but reality refuses to go away.

You still know that thing you don’t want to do is out there. That makes you unhappy.
You still know that you can’t put it off forever. That makes you unhappy.…

Read More

How I Became Interested in You Flourishing (TFP, Day 33)

Last week I was in Europe for a few days, meeting with missionaries who are working with Muslim refugees. I gave a presentation to them about The Flourishing Project, specifically wondering how this applies to people whose lives are in massive disruption and transition. They need to figure out how to survive, not thrive!

Several people asked me how I picked up this theme and why it became so important to me. I wanted to share with you what I told them.

ONE: I have always been interested in this theme. I just used different words.
I was and still am interested in helping people grow, develop, deepen, mature, learn, and connect intimately with God. I am interested in transformation and renewal. Those are all good words and ideas. All of those ideas are included when I use the word flourish.

TWO: Several years ago I spent about a year doing study and reflection on the Gospel of John.
I use a spiritual discipline called lectio divina, which is a slow, prayerful, meditative way of reading Scripture (which is why it took a year to work my way through the Gospel of John). Several things were very meaningful …

Read More

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 of the mid-late 70s was in its infancy. The song selection was not great, but the worshippers were enthusiastic. However, one simple worship song was from Psalm 36:5-10. It became my favorite song. Many years later, the band Third Day would do a nice version of this song. Here is a link to Your Love, O Lord.

You may want to read the Psalm, listen to the YouTube video, and then have a short time of prayer using the language of the Psalm to guide your prayerful thoughts.

Be sure to notice how God is the SOURCE of all human flourishing. Be sure to notice the character of our God and the work of our God.

Know that you are loved by this God. Know that Christ came to give you this kind of abundance of life (John 10:10), real and eternal, more …

Read More

God’s Will is Always in Your Best Interest

Five Things God Wills for You (So You Will Flourish)

Today’s thoughts build on what I shared yesterday, as well as the May 14 sermon, “Real Love, Real Goodness.” You can watch that sermon here.

God is good. God is loving. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his love endures forever” is a repeating theme in the Psalms. That is our starting point. That is the foundation for flourishing. That is the foundation for happiness and joy.

*God’s will is always good for you.
*God’s will is always the normative way for having a GOOD life.
*Trusting and following God’s will is the way you will flourish.
*Not trusting and not following God’s will is how you will flounder and languish (flanguish).

So, the first question is simply:
What is God’s will for my life? And the answers to that great question are extensive and exciting. I am going to sketch out five brief answers. Two of them are from the Sermon on the Mount. Three of them are from the first letter to the Thessalonians (a really awesome group of Christ followers!). For each of the five themes, I ask a second question in …

Read More

You Can Make God Happy and Yourself as Well

And that is going to produce a lot of happiness in your own life.

Here are the main ideas you need to know. Tomorrow I will give you several suggestions right out of the Bible about the areas of life where you can make God happy and find great happiness for yourself as well. It is awesome that this is a win-win scenario. It doesn’t mean  that for God to be happy, you must be miserable. No! God knows your happiness and his happiness are profoundly connected. So, here we go.

Main Idea Number One:
God always loves you no matter what. God’s grace is always free, no matter what. BUT, God is not always happy with you. And there are times when God is quite unhappy with you. God is unhappy with you when you do “dumb stuff.” God is unhappy with you when you do sinful stuff. God is unhappy with you when you do unloving stuff.

God is unhappy because these things are NOT GOD’S WILL or WAY for you. God knows these things will hurt you and hurt others as well. God is unhappy about the hurt and pain in the world. God is unhappy when …

Read More

6 Ways to Make Mom HAPPY Today and Every Day

On Day 29 of The Flourishing Project, I want to say a special thank you to mothers everywhere. 

You do so much that we take for granted. We forget to say thank you. We forget to call. We forget you are human, too. We get irritated at your “hovering” over us.

Okay, I am writing as a guy whose mom, when she was 84 years old, was still concerned that I drive too fast, that I don’t dress warm enough in the winter, that I don’t eat right, and …  And then she was even more concerned about her grandson, that he drives too fast, that he doesn’t dress warm enough, that he doesn’t eat right …

Worry. It’s what moms do.
Then they give advice because they worry. It’s what moms do.
Then they get unhappy when you don’t take their advice. It’s what moms do.
Dads are oblivious to what you are doing (but that is another story for another day).
Moms are your biggest cheerleaders. It’s what moms do.
Moms are those who make some of the greatest sacrifices for you. It goes with the job. It’s just what moms do.

I know that not every mom …

Read More

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 you do it in the right way, there will be good benefits (you will flourish and be happy). But done in the wrong way (and it usually is done wrongly) the consequences are serious (and include a lot of unhappiness).

You want to become yourself and not become someone else. AND YET, you need others to model the way for you, to show you who you can be, what you can do, and how it can be done. For example, I learned how to preach by watching and listening to preachers I liked. I borrowed ideas, techniques, and approaches. As time went on, I shaped my own preaching voice, but I needed others to jumpstart the process.

You want to be faithful to your own level of ability and skill. AND YET, you need others to set a standard and inspire …

Read More

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 self-esteem, empathy, and trust; it even improves memory. Suppose, finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing. Now would you take it?”

I know I would be QUITE INTERESTED in a pill like that.

The pill exists. The pill goes by the name meditation.

Unfortunately, Christians have allowed the religions of the east to “co-opt” this word. It is so associated with Buddhism (in particular) that we are leery of the word. So, we think. We study. We analyze. We critique. We examine. These are all left brain activities, which are essential and required. But we in North America are weak in the right brain activities of reflection, pondering, and meditating.

The NIV Bible uses the words reflect, ponder, and meditate about 160 times. The word meditation (in its various forms) is used 20+ times. For example:

Joshua 1:8
Keep this Book of

Read More