Wow! 2018’s been a big year. It’s been so great to see so many people stop by the blog this year. I’ve been so encouraged to see that it’s been more than double the number of people visiting the site than last year. I hope if you stumbled on the blog this year, you’ve been encouraged.
Even more encouraging for me are those who have journeyed all year as we’ve been following Jesus together. I appreciate when I get emails from you. Let me know how I can continue to serve you.
With 2018 gone, I thought it would be helpful to review the most viewed posts over the year. I sorted the top posts of 2018 into three categories:
- My Posts – All of these were different from last year but surprisingly one I wrote 2015 popped up.
- Guest Posts – These post vary from interviews to guest contributions and an excerpt from Daniel Im’s No Silver Bullets.
I’m sure you’ll find something that tickles your interest. Enjoy.
My Top Posts of 2018
People try so hard to say the ‘right’ to Christian when they are struggling with depression, but often the well-intentioned words can leave the person feeling worse. Here are 5 things I’ve found from my experience it’s best to avoid, and the one thing someone struggling with depression needs most.
I am so surprised to see this Advent post make a come back. I wrote this post in 2015 about a theory the Jewish Christian historian Alfred Edersheim proposed about the location of Jesus’ birth. He suggested that Midgal Eder was a place in Bethlehem linked with prophecy, Messianic expectation and raising lambs for temple sacrifice.
Lesslie Newbigin described the work of the church as being a sign, instrument and foretaste of God’s coming Kingdom. He envisaged the people of God as carrying the reality God’s Kingdom (present and future) to others in ways that invite them to join with Jesus. In this post, I explore the image of being a sign of God’s Kingdom. You can also find links to the other images in the post.
I wrote this post reflecting on our church and the journey my wife and I went on as we looked to church plant. Certainly our journey took many different turns, and we’re so grateful for the people God has brought into our lives to share the road with us. It’s been so exciting to reflect on the last 5+ years and look ahead with expectancy at what God will continue to do in the future.
Shame isn’t often talked about in the Christian life. This is a pity. Guilt tells us our actions are bad but shame makes us believe that we as people are bad. People experiencing shame need the freedom that comes from knowing Jesus’ unconquerable love, his unwavering acceptance, and his unending grace.
Several years ago a pastor asked me a simple, yet profound question, ‘Who is your Paul? And who is your Timothy?’ The point is simple, you need to be aware of who you are letting speak into your life and equally, be intentional about speaking into the lives of others. It’s about being discipled, and discipling others. There may be many rules of leadership out there but this one is important.
One of the big themes of the blog this year has been living everyday missional lives. This can be difficult if you grown up seeing mission as an event you invite people to. It can also be scary. We can get the theory and love the principles but taking the first step can be downright hard. Here are 5 common excuses for not living missionally and the story that will change your perspective.
Our society is full of rushing and the never ending attempt to earn more. Sometimes I take this into my walk with God. Even though I know it is all by grace, I still find myself rushing from event to event, doing all the ‘right’ things, just trying to show God how ‘good’ I am. If you can relate, then here’s a post for you.
I have a regular habit of praying for these 3 things. Many people are unaware, but several years ago when I was going through a church planting assessment, mission and evangelism was a major weak area in my walk with Jesus. I’m never going to be the type of evangelist on a stage leading thousands of people to Christ, but praying this helps to join in what God is doing in the places around me.
Sooner or later everyone goes through disappointment, hurt or pain. The good news is that God doesn’t waste these moments. He endures them with you and somehow despite difficult situations still works things according to his purpose.
Top Guest Contributor Posts of 2018
I’ve been in church my whole life and it feels like there are some questions Christians aren’t allowed to ask. When we do it feels like we’re doubting or backsliding. Well, I decided to ask John Stackhouse one of those questions.
As I mentioned earlier, helping disciples become everyday missionaries in their communities was a big focus of 2018. I wanted to help people out with some practical ideas, so I asked those who are already out there doing it for ways to engage community. The first post features Jeff Vanderstelt, Gina Mueller, Dave Ferguson, Ben Connelly, and Logan Gentry.
Gwen Adams is the Director of Priceless, an advocacy agency speaking out against sex slavery and human trafficking in Alaska. This is a powerful post about her struggles with the job she is called by God to do in the midst of the tragic and broken world she is called to do it in. Gwen captures God’s heart for the broken and the wonder of watching him work.
The third part of the missionally engaging your community interviews brings together Alan hirsch and Jon Shirley as they share their experiences from within the church. Secondly, Carlos Rodriguez, Gwen Adams and Carolyn Custis James provide more of a view from the trenches along with words of wisdom of how you can be involved in your context.
It was a pure privilege to share this post. I was able to have a conversation with Mark Meynell via email as he released his book When Darkness seems my Closest Friend outlining his struggles with depression as a minister. This post will help you understand the challenges some of those in ministry face, but also paints a hopeful picture for the church.
Many Christians believe two thirds of the gospel: we see it as a past event, that greatly benefits our future. This understanding misses the third, present reality of the gospel and its impact on our lives. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus IS a historic reality, and we CAN look back on the day he did. And the promise of an eternal, restored relationship with our God and Father in a new heavens and earth IS a guaranteed promise through the blood of Jesus. But if that’s all the gospel is, then how does it impact our everyday lives?
Steph O’Brien, Brad Watson, Todd Engstrom, Jonathan Dodson and Tim Kimberley continue to share practical ideas for everyday mission in the second part of this single question interview. Two things come immediately to mind as I reflect on their words: 1. seeing God at work in the people around you; and 2. treating others as people not projects.
I heard these words in a sermon by Andrew Rubinson at The City Church in Fort Worth and love them, so I asked if they could be transformed into a blog post. We long for big moments, but so often God is most at work in the in-between times. This is discipleship.
What do you get when you mix an American, a Brit, a Canadian and a couple of Aussies? That’s right, the final part of the missional living interviews. The word that comes mind with these responses is ‘neighbourhood.’ There are different aspects of this that are brought out in this post but each person talks about their love for their neighbourhood.
Daniel Im’s book No Silver Bullets is one of the standout books I read in 2017. He processes the topic of discipleship through an individual and church-wide frame work. In this excerpt he challenges Christian leaders to shift to a kingdom perspective as they seek to develop missionary, rather than mature, disciples.
Top Reviews of 2018
Jesus the Game Changer is the latest video release from Olive Tree Media. In short, the documentary series is a winner. It features 10 episodes, each 28 minutes long, which explore the person of Jesus, and the impact his teaching and followers had on society.
The Seven Laws of Love by Dave Willis seeks to offer practical ways that followers of Jesus can understand and develop stronger relationships. The book is laid out in 2 parts – the first outlining the ‘laws of love’; and second demonstrating how this looks in practice.
No Silver Bullets by Daniel Im is foremost a book about discipleship. However, this doesn’t mean the book is full of tips and techniques. Instead, Daniel Im views discipleship holistically at both an individual and church-wide level. He identifies 2 key aspects of human life. First, we tend to look for the quick fix, the easy solution, the proverbial silver bullet. And second, silver bullets seldom work out the way we thought.
The crux of How to Survive a Shipwreck is Martin’s personal journey from Pentecostal pastor to hitting life’s rock bottom. He finds that God is present in the midst of chaos. But more so, it is here he rebuilds, restores and recreates.
Present Over Prefect by Shauna Niequist could be described as a memoir, but in truth, the book is so much more. Throughout its pages Niequist recounts story upon story to uncover what lies at the heart of her journey – there must be something more in life than endless striving, travel, and speaking opportunities.