Series: The Screwtape Letters (2 of 6)


In honor of The Screwtape Letters, with apologies to C.S. Lewis:

Dear Nubbins,

To begin, we must first outline some of the differences between old converts and new believers. You would think new believers would be the easiest to tempt, but this is not always the case. Often times old Christians are much easier than new ones.

 New believers may be unaccustomed to the language and behaviors of Christians, but that is of little use to us. They may have some old bad habits – and you can certainly exploit those, but what they do have is a recent fire in the belly – a fresh realization of our Rival’s holiness and their own sin. Many older believers have gone years without those thoughts. Even better, their religious habits have produced a self-satisfied version of devoutness you will find cocoons them completely.

 As for the new convert, try attacking those old habits and while it may succeed in the moment, the counter-effect is that it reminds them of their sinfulness and their recent decision and drives them wholly to our Rival’s camp. You may win the battle, but lose the war, and we are taking the long-term view here.

 What you can try to do, is make the young disciple question their previous conversion. Was it real, or some imaginary excitability of the moment? Have the initial feelings lingered? Is he really “changed?” Where is the proof of this? Feel free to employ feelings, legends and fairy tales – anything to make the conversion seem fanciful and completely unscientific.

Continue reading…

Series: The Screwtape Letters (1 of 6)


Fall is finally in the air! In honor of October, I’m posting a six-part series on the blog in honor of one of my favorite books by C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, which I highly recommend.

Published in 1942, the book is written as a series of letters from a senior demon named Screwtape to his nephew “Wormwood” on tempting and misleading human charges.

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them,” Lewis writes.

Written as a casual tête-à-tête between the two demons, the letters draw attention to an often overlooked angle of Christian living – seeing things from the perspective of the enemy. After all, we analyze our opponent in almost everything else – war, sports, business, politics, etc., to make us stronger and more prepared for their advances. And there is much we can learn from Lewis’s approach. Continue reading…

Book Review: Love Your Life, Not Theirs


The highlight of last week was definitely the launch party for financial expert Rachel Cruze’s latest book, aptly titled, Love Your Life, Not Theirs.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

A writer and speaker with a passion for the millennial generation, Cruze uses heartwarming wit and charm to deliver sound financial wisdom, including several key points:

  • Quit the comparison game.
  • When you compare yourself to your friend’s live in their newsfeed or Instagram, you’re chasing make-believe.
  • We all have financial habits. Let’s make them good ones.
  • Debt is a dead end.
  • Blessed vs. #Blessed, and more.

Redefine “I deserve it.” Stop looking at your parents. Know what you value. Take control of your life.

As Cruz writes, “Content people are satisfied. Content people are at peace. Content people save more and avoid debt.”

The reward for this is spending on purpose and a lifestyle of giving.

Highly recommended – you can check it out here: Love Your Life, Not Theirs, by Rachel Cruze. Lampo Press 2016.

September: Getting Schooled

It’s back-to-school season, and today’s post is for my all teacher friends — a special excerpt from  Getting Schooled: The Lesson, Plans and Life of a Teacher, written by a good friend, Joel Anderson.

Anderson details the quirky, hard-knock life of a student teacher to substitute teacher, then high school English teacher at private schools in California, Arkansas and Alabama. With hilarious tales of first days, student essays, classroom misfires, class clowns and class sponsors, Getting Schooled navigates the rites of passage of a teacher, along with inevitable tales of life, lesson plans and other things gone awry.

You guys, this book may be the funniest thing I’ve read all year. If you’ve ever taught school…or heck, even been to school, this book will send you down memory lane with laughter.

Taken from Chapter 5, Staff…Infections, Meetings, and Other Irritations:

Every faculty staff at every school is unique. I can honestly say that every faculty I have been a part of has been, by and large, very supportive and united. That being said, every faculty member is bound to have his/her own unique quirks…

If there is one thing teachers everywhere in the United States can agree on, however it is this: faculty meetings suck, pure and simple. In fact, most teachers probably feel about faculty meetings the same way many students feel about their class: they feel they have better, more important things to do, and hate the fact that they have to come to something that is such a complete waste of their valuable time. The only difference is that more times than not, the feelings of the teachers are entirely justified.

At California Christian, we had morning devotions every morning at 7:15 am to go over the announcements for the day, to pray, and to voice any concerns we had. The official faculty meetings would take place once a month. I always had a problem with the mandatory daily morning devotions. Every frickin’ day? Are you kidding me? First off, it made it really hard to get things together before the school day started. If you wanted to get anything copied or set up before school started, you’d have to get there at 7:00 am and wait for the “copy lady” at the church to open the door and make your copies for you. For some reason, we weren’t allowed to make our own copies. The superintendent was apparently afraid that if we teachers were allowed to make our own copies that we would turn into wild-eyed copy machine fanatics who would threaten the existence of the rainforests and run the school out of business. Continue reading…

Thought for the Day: Walking with God

Today’s thought for the day comes from Walking with God, by John Eldredge:

“It is our deepest need, as human beings, to learn to live intimately with God. It is what we were made for…For this you and I were made. And this we must recover.

I’ve spent too many years trying to figure out life on my own. Reading books, attending classes, always keeping an eye out for folks who seemed to be getting the hang of things…We do this all the time, all of us, this monitoring and assessing and observing and adjusting, trying to figure out the keys to make life work…

The good news is, you can’t figure out life like that. You can’t possibly master enough principles and disciplines to make sure your life works out. You weren’t meant to, and God won’t let you. For he knows that if we succeed without him, we will be infinitely further from him…That whole approach to life – trying to figure it out, beat the odds, get on top of your game – it is utterly godless. Meaning, entirely without God. He is nowhere in those considerations…

You might have heard the old saying, “Give someone a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach someone to fish and you feed him for the rest of his life.” The same holds true for life itself. If you give someone an answer, a rule, a principle, you help him solve one problem. But if you teach him to walk with God, well then, you’ve helped him solve the rest of his life. You’ve helped him tap into an inexhaustible source of guidance, comfort and protection.”

Good stuff!


Check out more at Walking with God, John Eldredge, Thomas Nelson 2010.

Photoblog: Rio de Janeiro

In In honor of the 2016 Olympic games, #TBT to my trip to Rio de Janeiro and Corcovado Statue of the Christ:


Most of Rio is apartment/condo living; so scenic
against the mountains!




Much of the city curves around Guanabara Bay.



Modern Rio, the 2nd largest city in Brazil…



“The Corcovado” Statue of the Christ on Corcovado and
Sugarloaf Mountains. One of my favorite pictures — the
clouds would threaten to cover him, but he would reappear
and was always visible.



Another of my favorite pictures, the favelas of Brazil,
against the  modern city skyline.


Famous view from the Corcovado Mt.



Famous, iconic “hunchback” mountains of Rio.



In  my red winter coat…It was only September, but man,
it was cold at the top of the mountain!



Cristo The Redentor (Christ The Redeemer) Statue;
one of the new seven wonders of the world.



“Come all ye who are weary, and I will give you rest…”



Brazil is the largest Catholic nation in the world.
Getting to see Rio and the statue was definitely a
bucket list moment!


Go Team USA!

The Battle Hymn of the Republic

With the 4th of July this past week and the events in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas, I’ve had America on my mind for the past several days. One of my favorite Independence Day songs is The Battle Hymn of the Republic, by Julia Ward Howe.

Few people know that the song isn’t a Revolutionary War song, however, but set during the Civil War in 1862. Upon visiting a Union camp close to Washington D.C. in November, 1861, Howe heard the men singing a popular folk tune, John Brown’s Body, a song about a man named John Brown, who had died trying to free the slaves:

Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,
While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;
But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,
His soul is marching on…

John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see,
Christ who of the bondmen shall the Liberator be,
And soon thruout the Sunny South the slaves shall all be free,
For his soul is marching on.

Howe took the familiar tune, added new lyrics and turned it into a marching song for the Union. It was received so well, it reportedly brought Abraham Lincoln to tears at a rally.

150 years later, as we struggle through a season of senseless killings and civil rights, The Battle Hymn of the Republic speaks as eloquently as any poet’s pen could. The never-ending march for justice. An anthem for America and holiness of her cause, safety and freedom for all men:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free
While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Valor to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.


*In memory of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the five officers in Dallas who lost their lives this week, along with the many protestors across the country.

 His truth is marching on.

#TBT: The Honor of Your Presence

It’s June and wedding season is upon us again! This post is a #TBT on a topic near and dear to my heart. From 2013, The Honor of Your Presence:

If you’re like me, a trip to the mailbox most days includes the occasional invite to an engagement party, wedding or baby shower.

I have a question for you – when such an invitation arrives in your mailbox, do you immediately start thinking of reasons you can go, or scan the invitation for details looking for excuses not to go?

I’m writing this because I think it’s one of the unspoken social tragedies of our generation – the failure of the RSVP and dwindling attendance at weddings, showers and other milestone moments.

I’ve heard the stories over and over again – the bride and groom who reserved a nice chapel only to have 2/3 of the church empty. The roommate trying to plan a baby shower for a friend, only to have four of the 30 people invited RSVP by the deadline. The wife trying to plan a surprise 40th birthday party for her husband who had 6 of the 10 guests bail out the day of because “something came up,” leaving a hot dinner and no one to eat it.

To be fair, we are overbooked with hobbies, sporting events, outings and church activities like never before, but something profound in our culture has changed when attendance at the life events of one’s friends has taken a backseat to eating pancakes in your pajamas. Continue reading…

May Photoblog: The Biltmore

May is in full bloom in the Ashville mountains! For those who love spring, here are some pictures I took from a trip two weekends ago to the Biltmore home in Ashville, North Carolina. So pretty!

















Best of the Web: God’s Not Dead 2 Review

Today’s post of the month comes from Joel Anderson, who wrote a very thought-provoking review of God’s Not Dead 2 here.

Disclaimer: I’m not opposed to Christian films — on the contrary, I highly enjoyed Risen, Courageous, Facing the Giants, The Nativity, Amazing Grace and other movies. But (in light of the Starbucks red holiday cup controversy this winter), Anderson makes some excellent points on the meaning of “persecution” and some of the dangerous clichés promoted by Christian films.

To quote Anderson:

“Let’s see, a teacher might lose her job for mentioning Jesus in a public school. She has recourse through the court system where, if she can convince a jury of her peers that she was just making reference to the historical figure of Jesus, and not preaching, she could be vindicated, retain her job, and go on with her life. Mmmm…so she lives in a country where, even if some bad people try to get her fired over her faith, there’s a system in place to protect her rights.”

No, sorry, that’s not persecution. That’s living in the real world where sometimes bad things happen to you. That’s living in the United States where, when bad things happen to you, you have a shot at rectifying the situation. Persecution is beheadings, rapings, fleeing for your life, and the Gulag. So please, Christians in America, even when bad things happen to you…don’t call it persecution. That’s an insult to your brothers and sisters in Christ who have witnessed family members slaughtered.” Continue reading…