Month: April 2018

A Time for Prayer || guest blog by Connie Milchling

This time of year, we begin seeing and hearing information about the National Day of Prayer. Many people ask if Living Word is participating in the event. The answer is “yes,” but in a creative way that is unique to us. First, a little history.

The National Day of Prayer was formed by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on April 17, 1952 and every president since has signed a proclamation to keep it going. In 1988, President Reagan established the first Thursday of May as the official recurring date that recognizes how prayer brings people together. This year, when the theme of UNITY was announced, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why just one day, and why only America? What if we expanded the length of time to multiple days and enlarged the reach to the world God loves so much? What if we created a prayer experience that would allow time for more people to come and pray?

As I began sharing this idea with other leaders and key ministry partners it made sense. And so, it is with great joy that the Prayer Ministry at Living Word invites you to …

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What I Am Reading These Days

I am currently working on several writing projects. My early morning routine consists of devotions, reading, and writing. Seasons of life vary for me. There are times when I do more reading and less writing. Then I will cut back my reading so I have more time to write.

Right now I am in a major burst of writing. One of the books I am working on is on Flourishing. I started that project over a year ago and then it went on the back burner. Now it is on the front burner and I am plugging away. When I write, I read. I fill my heart and mind with the best thoughts of others. I filter, process, reflect, and then begin to write.

While I had done a good deal of reading in preparation for The Flourishing Project, which we did at Living Word more than a year ago, I decided to read several more of the really good books on this topic. So, here are a few of those books.

These authors are some of the leaders in the field of human flourishing.

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I am also reading biblical and theological books, including …

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And finally, I

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Happening to Things…

One of the best books I ever read on learning was a book about Leonardo Da Vinci.

How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael Gelb is NOT a self-help book. It is a manual on learning, thinking, growing, creating, and stewarding the knowledge and wisdom God gives you. Gelb is a scholar and consultant on learning and creativity. He takes us to one of the very best human beings our world has ever produced so we can learn from his way.

I have read the book twice and skimmed through it often. I pulled it off the shelf the other day, because one of my summer reading books (if summer ever gets here) is a new one on Da Vinci by renowned historian and author Walter Isaacson. He is the same author who wrote the great books on Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin. Do you see a pattern in his choices for writing biographies?

Here is a great thought from Da Vinci:

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

I …

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Quotes I Am Pondering

Greatness is not a final destination, but a series of small acts done daily in order to constantly rejuvenate and refresh our skills in a daily effort to become a better version of ourselves.
Maurice Ashley (the first African American International Grandmaster in Chess)

The key to a great life is simply having a bunch of great days. So you can think about it one day at a time. 
Pete Adeney (also known as Mr. Money Mustache, a really fascinating individual)

I put these two together because they are getting at something really significant. All good things, really good things, and truly great things, are the result of the slow, steady accumulation of daily, sustained, little good things. Never underestimate the power of steady process. It is the accumulation that aggregates (not aggravates) to a truly worthwhile life.

No society in human history ever suffered because its people became too reasonable. 
Sam Harris (author of best-selling books like Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Waking Up, and more)

Maybe this is why we suffer as a nation and why we suffer as a people. We are not pursuing reasonableness, otherwise known as wisdom. And for a closely

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What NOT to Do With Your Emotions

You want to be wise about your emotions. There are some things we often do with and about them that we must learn NOT to do. Growth and maturity happens in several ways. One way is that we learn to do good things we are not doing. Another way is that we stop doing harmful things we have been doing. This reflection will help you stop doing some harmful things about emotions.

This one is a little longer, but you will find it helpful. Here is what NOT to do with your emotions:

ONE: Be afraid of them or embarrassed by them.

You are an emotional being. That is how God created you. Emotions are a wonderful and important part of life. Even the darker ones (like anger and fear) have a purpose. Of course, the darker emotions can easily degenerate and become toxic and harmful to you and others.

Christians may be at a disadvantage on this because we hear well-intended but biblically misguided messages like, “Good Christians don’t get angry.” Hmm. Tell that to those money changers in the temple. Jesus got angry and they felt it. Maybe he wasn’t being a good Christian! Or “Good Christians don’t …

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What Exactly is an Emotion?

This question seems simple and innocent. Instead, it opens the door to a snarky and tangled complexity. It is not easily answered. Biology, psychology, and spirituality provide different insights. Here is how I see it.

When you feel angry (i.e., have the emotion of anger) you are not only having an emotional experience, you are having an intellectual one as well, for you are simultaneously thinking angry thoughts. You CANNOT feel angry without thinking angry. Just like you cannot be thinking angry thoughts without the corresponding feeling of anger.

But as you think angry and feel angry, your body is fully involved with physiological reactions. Chemicals and hormones are flooding your body. You are being prepped for fight or flight. Adrenaline is surging. Your nervous system is firing on all cylinders. Parts of your brain are lighting up with activity. Muscles are being prepared for high energy response.

So, feeling angry is not just an emotional matter, it is physiological as well. Heck, you may as well throw some instincts into the mix. Whatever they are!

So, is an emotion just a feeling? That’s hard to answer.

I prefer to say it this way: Not “I feel angry,” but “I …

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Self-Awareness and the Emotional Life

Clueless is Never a Compliment!

Being clueless about your emotions is never a good thing! Self-awareness about your emotions is the first step toward healthy emotions. This is one more reason why I love the psalms.

The psalmists were profoundly self-aware about their emotions. They felt deeply about their experiences. They knew what they felt. They named what they felt. They prayed about what they felt. They turned to God for help about what they felt.

Therefore, the psalms help us become self-aware. As we read these song-prayers, we discover our own emotions displayed by these hot culture psalmists. When we see them express their anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, and discouragement, we can do the same. Their emotional experiences give legitimacy to our experiences.

What the psalmists do, led by the Holy Spirit, is to name and reveal the depths of the human heart. They model the way for us. They encourage us to do the same.

What the psalmists do, led by the Holy Spirit, is to reveal a way of prayerful encounter with God that brings the real you in contact with the beautiful God. Naturally, we are hesitant to reveal our real self to this beautiful God. …

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Feel: The Power of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

On Sunday, the sermon theme was Psalms: Life as Worship. The focus was on the psalms being full of emotional experience that is lifted to God through various forms of prayer. The psalmist uses his emotional energies as the launching pad to seek after God. I only had a few minutes to talk about the power of emotions. This week, I will share several of the most important ideas about emotions, but even these blogs will be brief. There is much more that some of you may want to pursue.

Today I want to recommend two different books that have shaped my thinking on emotions. While there are other more academic books that I love, both the recommended books are full of substance and yet they hang the fruit low. They make this substance understandable and practical.

The title of the blog post is a mashup of these two books.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero is a wonderful book. The focus is on spirituality, but the flavor is how spirituality is not just about thinking, it is about the emotional life as well. And it is about how good spirituality is full of emotions and how good spirituality …

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Concentric Circles of Praise || guest post by Chris Smith

On Sunday we talked about life as worship as we looked at the book of Psalms. The Psalms are a rich depository of prayer and praise that capture the continuum of emotional experience – from sorrow to joy, despair to hope. Those who composed the Psalms, the ancient songwriters (including David), give us language to express what we’re feeling in a way that acknowledges both our present reality, as well as God’s character.

Some of the most frequent and beautiful psalms are psalms of praise. Here, the psalmists are expressing delight, joy, and gratitude as they exalt God for who he is and what he has done. In particular, Psalms 95-100 are like jet fuel that vertically direct our hearts to blaze forth the praises and glories of God.

One of the dynamics of praise is that it begins in our own hearts, then naturally leads outward and is intensified and multiplied in the process. One way to think of this is as concentric circles of praise. The inner circle is the praise that arises within us as individuals; the next circle out is the praise that happens when we are gathered together; and the outer circle is praise that …

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The Reckless Love of God || guest post by Ryan Lewis

We are introducing a new song at Living Word this Sunday called “Reckless Love”. We look forward to singing this together as a church family, considering our own stories and how fiercely the Lord’s love pursues His children. 

My small son Jude is just learning how to color. He has absolutely no desire to keep his crayons within the outlines of his coloring book, let alone the page itself. He doesn’t play by the “rules” of coloring. Jude’s artwork is completely uninhibited. He doesn’t care what others will think.  

Our God’s love has that same pure, uninhibited quality. He sometimes moves outside the lines of our understanding that we expect Him to stay within. Jesus himself completely frustrated anyone who thought they had a good grasp of the nature of God, and this is evident through so many of His interactions recorded in scripture. He was constantly correcting, reorienting, and rebuilding our understanding of God and the nature of His love.  

One of the ways God “colors outside the lines” can be seen in the way he pursues us. Humanity is so broken and undeserving of His love. And yet, God sent His son to die for us, knowing …

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