Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Change is a learning process

New book outlines how congregations can change
into missional, fruitful learning communities

Change is seldom easy for an individual, much less an entire group of people such as a church congregation. In Learning Change: Congregational Transformation Fueled by Personal Renewal (Kregel Ministry/May 27, 2017/ISBN: 978-0-8254-4455-5/ $18.99), authors Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor share the stories of church leaders who were able to transform their congregations by first making changes in their own lives.

Based on their previous research and work with church organizations, Herrington and Taylor were invited to develop a collaborative process focused on personal and congregational transformation. They created a 30-month pilot project with 16 congregations. Many of the leaders involved in the project felt trapped in unhealthy, even toxic, church situations and were desperate for hope. Learning Change chronicles these transformations lived out in practice, in community, and throughout time in a wide variety of congregational contexts.

“One thing all the participating churches had in common is they needed deep change in the mental models guiding their decisions about how to impact their communities effectively with the Gospel,” Herrington explains. “This included confronting and changing mental models about things dear to us as Christians: discipleship, mission and the role of the church. They all also needed support and encouragement as they worked to change those mental models.”

Each chapter includes stories of real-world applications, questions and suggestions to practice in congregational contexts and resources for further exploration. Breaks are built in throughout the text to invite readers to engage with God. The book is divided into four parts:
·         The keys to real change
·         Four core values necessary to effect change
·         Mental models showing how the ways we think affect the church
·         Additional tools for more effective leadership.

“The world is changing at the pace of a jet in flight, and the church is changing at the pace of a horse and buggy,” Taylor offers. “What doesn’t need to happen is for congregations to double down and work harder at 20th-century strategies and ways of thinking. We hold that congregational transformation is not possible apart from being accompanied by a journey of personal transformation. Personal transformation is found in the lost art of spiritual formation, and we want to help church leaders find it.”

Learning Change is more than a story of how one church changed. This is a resource for church leaders who are faced with the challenge of congregational revitalization and ready to accept an invitation to join in a process of powerful transformation. The method is proven as the pilot project is now a thriving process in two nations, two denominations, six regions and more than 100 congregations.

Learn more about Learning Change at

About the Authors

Jim Herrington is an author, former pastor and conference leader. He holds a Masters of Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is in the process of completing his D.Min. in Spiritual Formation from the Houston Graduate School of Theology.

Herington is the founder and team leader at Faithwalking, an organization that teaches, coaches and empowers leaders to equip their communities to live the fully human, fully alive life that Jesus lived. He is also the founding executive director of Mission Houston.

In his spare time, Herrington enjoys running, gardening, travel and a whole lot of reading. Jim and his wife, Betty, live in Houston, TX, and are the parents of five adult children.

Visit Jim Herrington’s online home at

Trisha Taylor is a counselor, minister, author and consultant. She is a fellow with the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and has worked with pastors and congregations in Houston and across the country for more than two decades.

In addition to Learning Change, Taylor is also the co-author of The Leader's Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation. She is a co-founder of Faithwalking, a spiritual formation process that equips people to live missionally.

Taylor enjoys good stories wherever she can find them and life-giving friendships. She and her husband, Craig have more than 30 years of experience as a clergy couple and have two adult children. They live in Houston, TX.

Learn more about Trisha Taylor at

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why are church membership and discipline important?

New release addresses 40 of the most common

and thorny questions about church life

Does church membership mean more than simply joining a social group? Does the church have a responsibility to discipline its members — and if so, what does that look like? In 40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline (Kregel Academic/May 27, 2017/ISBN 978-0-8254-4445-6/$18.99), Dr. Jeremy Kimble recognizes and addresses the many puzzling questions about the critical role of the church in the life of believers.

The latest release in Kregel’s 40 questions series edited by Benjamin L. Merkle, each section considers questions of theology, ministry and practicality. This book raises — and clearly answers — the most common and difficult questions church leaders and members have. With succinct chapters, 40 Questions about Church Membership and Church Discipline is a practical resource for any church leader, elder board, seminary student or new member seeking a foundational understanding of how the church should function.

“Church membership is not solely about what you can get out of a church. Instead, membership points us toward commitment and mutual accountability,” explains Kimble. “When we join the membership of a local church, we are agreeing to be overseen in our discipleship and oversee others in their discipleship. As such, the idea of membership goes beyond mere attendance and even ministry involvement. At its heart, church membership is about a group of people committed to one another, who will continually oversee and exhort one another toward ever-increasing godliness.”

Among the 40 questions Kimble examines are:
·         Is there a New Testament precedent for membership?
·         How does membership relate to baptism and communion?
·         Who should become a member?
·         How is discipline related to discipleship?
·         Should a believer associate with someone under church discipline?

Church discipline is an often thorny topic, but Kimble describes discipline as a proper demonstration of the biblical concept of love. He writes that God disciplines those whom he loves (Hebrews 12:6–11), and thus a church who claims to love its members without disciplining them contradicts Scripture and offers a different kind of love than God does. Church discipline can potentially be a painful process, but as a spiritual family we are called to work through such matters faithfully and gently.

“The main message of the book is that church membership and discipline are essential components to the health of a local church, since they are a distinct means of pursuing discipleship, holiness, love and perseverance in the faith,” Kimble offers.

Learn more about 40 Questions about Church Membership and Church Discipline and the other books in the 40 Questions series at

About the Author

Dr. Jeremy Kimble (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH. He is passionate about teaching college students, as well as the local church, the truth of God’s Word.

Dr. Kimble’s hope is that through his courses, students will seek to love God and others, rightly understand the grand narrative of Scripture and apply theological truths to everyday life. He is committed to teaching in the classroom as well as mentoring students in smaller settings. His research interests include ecclesiology, eschatology, biblical theology, worldview and the theology of Jonathan Edwards.

He served in pastoral ministry for eight years and currently serves as an elder at Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville.

Follow Dr. Jeremy Kimble on Twitter (@JeremyKimble). 

Monday, May 29, 2017

I just want to get this blog on #thebachelorette posted

It's actually Tuesday night, and I'm just getting this Monday blog post typed. Actually, that's not unusual. I back date posts way too much. #lazyblogger

Peyton had a softball game last night, and I wasn't home to work on my post. Even tonight I'm getting started on it about two hours after I intended to. Sigh. I finally sit down to start watching and realize it didn't even record on my DVR last night. Thank goodness I was able to pull it up off of a playback option because I thought I was going to have to watch it online. However, it may be just as bad because it appears to be buffering. I am not going to be able to fast forward through commercials though. 

As I wait for the buffering that may mean the season is over by the time this episode plays, let me back up a little bit though. Last Tuesday morning, my co-worker, Caitlin, gave me the awesome news that I would have someone else to talk about The Bachelorette with. While she had not been watching the show for the past 8 years (or something like that), her fiance loves it and she was watching along with him. 

If you don't think the guys were bad enough from what you saw as they came out of the limos last week, you need to read this post about the biggest red flags from the contestant bios. Oh. My. Word. People are messed up!

So, go ahead. Read that, then come back here for my recap. Alright, I'm back to having to watch online because it didn't start at the beginning of the episode. GRRR. Ain't nobody got time for this. 

I don't want to go in uber detail this season. I want blogging to not be a chore. 

First date card supposedly comes the first morning after the rose ceremony. Chris Harrison asks the guys what they thought of Rachel last night, and drops off the date card.

"Dean, Jack, Jonathan, Blake, Iggy, Kenny, Brett, Lucas... I'm looking for husband material."

They pop the bubbly to celebrate the card. Seems a bit early... Anyway, the guys head off to a BBQ where Rachel has been cooking up burgers, hot dogs and shrimp. Already, that is too detailed.

The date activity is football. Lucas, aka "Whaaboom," is drawing attention to himself. Iggy questions his motives. Blake knows the real Lucas and plans to reveal the truth.

Next part of the date involves Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis judging the guys on their "husband material."

There are six obstacles - a baby changing station (Iggy lost out), a baby sling (don't know who lost out), vacuuming, unclogging a drain, washing dishes looking for a giant ring, and setting a table for dinner. The last two men were Kenny and Whaboom. Whaboom grabs the bouquet of flowers and crosses the line first. He should get negative points for spiking the doll when he won. Whaboom tries to get Ashton to Whaboom, but he is baffled and refuses. 

The guys continue their group date at a bar. Rachel takes Whaboom off first since he won the challenge. She wants to talk to him and calls him out on pushing Kenny on the challenge. They chat. He reads her a poem he wrote. He tries too hard to make it rhyme. 

Blake tells the guys that he's known Whaboom for a few years now and this is all a gimmick to get on TV. 

Onto Fred convince Rachel he's no longer the corny kid at summer camp. She emphasizes how BAD he was back in the day. 

Some guy whose name I don't recall talks about there's such thing as wiping a baby butt too much.

Rachel is unimpressed as am I. She is not getting much from the conversations. No romance. 

Then Blake gets his turn to talk. He is roommates with Whaboom's ex-girlfriend and tells Rachel that Boom is here for the wrong reasons. He then turns around and tells Boom and the other guys, "you came up in conversation." I'm bored with the discussion that ensues. Then, it gets stupid. 

Dean turns things around for Rachel. He makes her laugh and has a personality. She tells him again she liked his comment, "I'm going black, and I'm not going back." She wished she used the line first. He kind of regrets not going in for a kiss, but wants to be respectful.

Kenny gets tired of the "two white dudes" going in circles, and gets up to leave. He gets his time with Rachel and talks about his daughter MacKenzie Rachel. It seems like they have a good conversation. He also skips the kiss to focus on talking. 

When it comes time to hand out the date rose, she gives it to Dean. He walks her out to the car and gets his kiss then. 

The next date card arrives back at the mansion during the group date. "Peter, I am looking for my best friend."

The morning of their date, they drive out to the airport, and she tells him they are going to Palm Springs. Rachel tells Peter they are going to be joined on their date by someone else. Her dog, Copper, arrives in his own car. He and Peter make fast friends. (The poor dog has a front leg in a cast so he hops around funny.) 

When they arrive in Palm Springs, they go to Barkfest. I'd hate this whole date. 

While this date is putting me to sleep, another date card arrives. 

"Will, Jamey, Diggy, Alex, Adam, Lee, Matt, Eric, Josiah, DeMario - Swish."

If I got all the names down, that leaves four men without a date this week.

Back to Peter. The meal where no one eats. She thinks she sees potential, but doesn't know how he feels. Isn't it all a little early? She asks Peter what his family thinks about all of this. His dad started watching once he got cast and became a Rachel fan. The two compare their front teeth gaps. It runs in his dad's family. Rachel and her nephew are the only ones in her family with it though. 

Then comes the requisite boring conversation about past relationships. He had seen a therapist... She says this all is scaring her because she too saw a therapist after her long relationship went bad. Now that they have bonded over tooth gaps and therapy, he gets the date rose. She claims to be a smitten kitten over Peter. Her words, not mine. They kiss, then there are literal fireworks as opposed to a private concert. 

The next is the group basketball date. I think the guys are more excited about Kareem Abdul Jabar being there as the guest than anything. ;)

Kareem gives a speech about character and says this is the way to see if the guys get along with others. What's odd is Kareem and Rachel talking about the positive attributes of some of the men. 

That was just practice though. They are going to have to play tonight in front of an audience. Chris Harrison even comes to watch. I couldn't tell you who is on what team. I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open as I sit here. 

Rachel meets people after the game, including DeMario's ex. He was one of the men from "Women Tell All" or "After the Final Rose," whenever it was. That's when his girlfriend saw him. They had dated for seven months, but had not talked in three days when she saw him on TV.

Rachel goes and gets DeMario out of locker room. When he first comes out, he tries to act like he doesn't know who she is. They were on again off again and lots of he said/she said. Rachel tries to find out what's really going on. Rachel tries to lawyer interview him. She's not buying what he has to say since he's not really answering anything anyway. She sends him home on the spot. 

Rachel is mad. She takes a minute in the women's restroom to cool off, then addresses the 9 men telling them she sent DeMario home. She tells the men if any of them have a girlfriend, they need to leave. With that she says she'll see the rest later. 

My laptop battery is going to run out before I finish this. It's draining too much juice. If I didn't have to play so many commercials, I MIGHT make it to the end with a little power and without falling to sleep. I'm not going to go upstairs to get my power cord, that is for sure.  

Party that night. Drinking. Boring conversations. "I'm interested in you and here for the right reasons." Josiah makes a connection... and a makeout session. Rachel thinks she's having awesome conversations with this group of guys. Alex sings (not well) in Russian to her. 

After some other conversations, Josiah gets the rose. 

So, recapping so far. Twenty-three men to start the episode. Dean, Peter and Josiah get roses on their dates. DeMario gone.

Four men didn't have a date: Bryan (he got the first impression rose last week), Bryce, Brady, and Anthony. (Evidently the BR names were sorry out of luck.)

At the cocktail party, Rachel makes it clear that dishonesty was why she sent DeMario home. The race to get time with her is on.

At this point I had to shut off my computer before it shut itself down... 

Rachel talks with Bryan and explains that she didn't get a date the first week either after the first impression rose. He gives her a massage and adjustment to help her relax after the DeMario thing. 

Speaking of DeMario, he comes up outside wanting to talk to Rachel while she is talking with various men (including one that shows her a Barbie dream house, Iggy thumb wrestles with her...). Security sends Chris Harrison out to talk to him. Chris says he's leaving it 100% up to Rachel if he wants to talk to her. Chris interrupts her conversation with Fred and all the guys are thinking it's too soon for him to be here. 

Chris asks how she's doing. She answers, "a lot better than the last time you saw me." She is curious about what he could possibly say, and with the assurance security is outside, she agrees to speak to him. 

Some of the guys overheard the conversation between Rachel and Chris, so they spread the word and go out front to confront DeMario as well.

Then, the episode ends with no rose ceremony. See, I was so close to the end last night. So close. 

I still believe every episode should end with a rose ceremony. It's a waste otherwise.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Judges

These kids have grown so much in two years!

The Judges

God set Judges over Israel, 
One brave woman, fourteen men.

They helped Israel fight their battles, 
led them back to God from sin.

Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah,
Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair,
Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon,
Samson, Eli, Samuel.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Yes, this was the sixth time

I did something fun this week! You ought to be proud! I don't do that a lot.

Now it's time for a confession: this week I saw New Kids on the Block for the sixth time. The first time was in 1990. The real confession is in the fact that five times have been since 2008.

They put on a great show every time, and every time it's a little different than the others.

I really need to show Mom the pictures of Donnie Wahlberg. She watches Blue Bloods and a few years ago she said she couldn't picture him singing.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Strange, but not the strangest concert I've seen at the AAC

A month or so ago one of the big Facebook games was sharing 9 concerts you had been to and one that was a lie. At first I thought, "Wow, if I did this it would be pathetic because I average maybe a concert a year, and over the past I don't know how many years, I've seen the same two groups multiple times."

However, including opening acts, I had a pretty eclectic list that included George Strait and Lady Gaga, The Oak Ridge Boys and Maroon 5. Afterwards, I thought of people I could have added. For example, Trans Siberian Orchestra. That will likely forever be the strangest concert experience ever. I blogged about it once upon a time. I describe it as having an acid trip without ever taking acid. My friend, Jenny, and I still reference it every year.

So, Jenny and I have been to five New Kids on the Block concerts together dating back to 1990. It's our thing. For the sixth time, I went with Rachel, but Jenny was sitting one level up and one section over from us. We texted back and forth the entire time. I'll get to her insights here in a minute.

First up was Boyz II Men. Jenny and I were supposed to see them as a first act a few years ago, but ran late and caught them as they ran off the stage singing "Motown Philly." We were all glad we caught them this time. This part was great. The most strange thing was a rose blooming during one of their other very popular songs. (Think about it and the association.)

Then, Paula Abdul took the stage. Rachel said she could not care less about Paula. I told her it should be fun! By the time it was over, I was agreeing with her. I better watch what I say because even though I didn't tweet anything about Paula, the next day she started following me on Twitter.

Between every song there was a wardrobe change. Yeah, I knew there would be dancing, I just didn't think about every song being so choreographed. There also was a lot of reliance on the video screens (the whole stage backdrop) for special effects.

One song Jenny would text, "This is like everything on America's Got Talent put together." You know those shadow dance numbers or the guy in front of a screen dancing while the graphics morph?

A couple of songs later, "Now it's So You Think You Can Dance." Wait, that was actually during a costume change. While she was changing, she introduced her dancers. They ran out one by one with their names on the screen.

It got a little weird at times. Sometimes she was dancing with real dancers and with dancers on the screen at the same time.

While all of this was going on, I was on Facebook with Angie who had seen a video her cousin had posted. Her comment was, "I don't think she's singing." We don't think she was either, but her audio tracks were off whack. Loud and really high pitched. She sounded bad. I've been to concerts where everyone sounded bad, but Boyz II Men and NKOTB both had good sound (especially for a concert setting).

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Engaging people’s hearts the way Jesus did

Part 1 of an interview with Randy Newman,
Author of Questioning Evangelism
When it comes to evangelism, do you feel pressured to know all the answers? What if you didn’t have to worry about having all the right answers but instead knew the right questions to ask in return? In Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did (Second Edition) (Kregel Publications), author Randy Newman asks readers to look at evangelism in a different way. After all, Jesus asked questions; why don’t we?

Q: Why is it better to ask questions than to give answers when it comes to evangelism? What are some of the first questions you use to get a conversation started?

What does a question do that an answer doesn’t? (Yes, I know. I just answered your question with a question on purpose.) Doesn’t a question make you think and participate in the answering process? Doesn’t a question sometimes expose hidden or less-than-sincere motives? Don’t questions take away some of the anger?

The easiest first questions are ones that clarify. “What do you mean by . . . ?,” “Are you saying . . . ?,” or  “Why, of all the possible questions you could ask, do you ask that question?” Of course, sooner or later, you have to do more than just ask questions. At some point, the questioning gets annoying, but some carefully chosen questions can pave the way for more productive conversations than just announcing an answer.

Q: Tell us about how you came to start using this method in your own outreach.

It was born out of frustration. Just answering questions wasn’t working. I needed to try engaging with people instead of just preaching at them. I saw enough success to keep going, develop the technique and experiment with new questions. It also prompted me to study how Jesus used questions and answered questions with questions. If He used this technique, I figured it was a better model than the ones we often look to for insights about evangelism. The most common approach I had seen was taken more from the business world than the Bible. We approached evangelism the way sales people approached their trade. The gospel is not a product, and evangelism is not a sales pitch.

Q: Many times we get frustrated when someone answers a question with a question. How can we use the questioning method in a way that doesn’t turn off the person we are talking to?

A lot of it has to start from within. We need genuine concern for people, not just insight in how to win arguments. Praying and asking God to give us love for people is essential. It’s not automatic or something we can well up from within us. We need wisdom from God about how to engage with people as whole persons — intellectually, emotionally and socially.  

Q: How should a reader approach and use Questioning Evangelism?

Ideally I would hope people would read it in a small group and discuss it chapter by chapter. In particular, I think it would be most helpful if people could discuss how they could formulate questions to try out on non-Christians they know. In fact, I hope readers will discuss it over the course of a few months while trying out some of the approaches from the book in real-life conversations between meetings. As people share successes, failures and frustrations, they can brainstorm ways to improve and pray for God to bless their efforts.

Q: What are the most difficult questions Christians need to be able to answer or at least have a response to? How can they prepare to respond to those questions?

The three biggest questions, in my opinion, are the ones about exclusivity (Why do you think Jesus is the only way?), suffering (How can you believe in a God who allows so much evil in the world?) and sexuality (Why are Christians stuck in the 18th century?). Without repeating everything I wrote in the book, I think the single best approach to preparing is to become fluent with such phrases as, “I don’t have a simple answer to your question, but I would like to discuss it. Would you?”

Q: The first edition of Questioning Evangelism has been a perennial best-seller since its release more than a decade ago. What has been updated in this second edition?

The biggest change had to be made because of how our culture has moved strongly in favor of homosexuality. Fourteen years ago I wrote a chapter on how we witness to homosexuals, and some people may have thought that was odd. Back then, few people brought up the issue of homosexuality in the context of an evangelistic conversation. Today, however, people raise the question often, and it’s absolutely essential to address it. I updated the chapter extensively and suggested some helpful resources developed in the past few years.

Learn more about Questioning Evangelism at Randy Newman is also on Twitter (@RandyDNewman).  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The strength and fragility of hope

Part 2 of an interview with Cynthia Ruchti,
Author of A Fragile Hope
We easily become so absorbed in our own responsibilities, problems and concerns that we miss what is going on in the lives of those around us, even those we love the most. That’s where Josiah Chamberlain finds himself in award-winning author Cynthia Ruchti’s latest release, A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). When his life starts falling apart around him, will the fragile hope he has left be enough to help through the most difficult time of his life?

Q: In a few sentences, tell us about your new book, A Fragile Hope.

Much-in-demand marriage and family expert Josiah Chamberlain finishes the final chapter of his latest book — destined to be another best-seller, he’s sure — to discover his wife has left him. Everything he assumed about their relationship disintegrates. His wife, Karin, can’t tell him why she left. It will cost him everything to keep loving with nothing but a fragile hope his career, his sanity, his faith and their marriage can survive.

Q: What lessons in love are revealed to readers in A Fragile Hope?

Even though the lessons within the novel A Fragile Hope are tucked quietly between the covers, I hope readers find them unmistakable. 
  • The strength and fragility of love. Both are true. A couple I know has made writing and speaking on the subject of love their life’s work. Not long ago, the husband was in an accident that could have snuffed out his life. Their love is strong and practiced, but it could have ended that night. On hearing of the accident, before she knew the extent of his injuries, the wife whispered a gratitude prayer that it had become habit for them to say “I love you” every time they said goodbye, whether for an hour or a week. Love would have been their last words to each other if he hadn’t survived the accident. No wonder their relationship is so strong. Everything they do is bookended with love.
  • The need for constant nurturing in relationships. It’s easy to fall into routine in marriage, to assume if it has survived the first few years, the rest is coasting. However, the opposite is true. Coasting in marriage is as dangerous as coasting in our faith. If we’re not moving forward, we’re moving backward.  
  • The power and gift of communication. Not all communication in marriage is verbal, but not all talking is communicating either. Communication is the act of exchanging gifts of listening and responding. Just as prayer is an interconnection WITH God, not words spoken TO God, so communication in marriage is an interchange with the goal of understanding, not winning.
  • Against our natural inclination and instincts, at its heart, love is sacrifice. Jesus demonstrated this truth poignantly, showing His love by sacrificing His life for us. The best marriages are those where personal agendas bow to the need of the other, but in such a grace-filled way the one bowing feels blessed. Not at all what we see disguised as love in most movies or television dramas.

Q: Is it possible to get past the devastation of betrayal completely? What words of encouragement can you offer readers who may be struggling with past hurts?

God tells us He “remembers our sins no more” in Isaiah 43:25 and Hebrews 12:8. He is the only One who can forgive AND forget perfectly. The rest of us are invited to tap into His strength to forgive those who wrong us or betray us. However our human minds find it more challenging to forget. Choosing to love in spite of our hurt slowly rebuilds what shattered when trust was broken. Personally I also believe that leaning into God — the perfect Forgiver, the Author of forgiveness — is the only way we can move beyond disappointment or betrayal to see love restored again.

Q: How long ago did you first start work on A Fragile Hope? Is there a reason why this story was such a long work in progress?

This story lived in a tender spot under my heart for more than eight years. Seven other novels and novellas were written before I was given the opportunity to revisit A Fragile Hope. My thoughts would return to the story often, but the pieces were scattered. Some were missing. Then, as I began to work on it again after years away from it, I discovered the lost pieces sliding into place to rework the story as it stands today. I might never know why it was important for the story to wait until now. Maybe something needed to grow within me. Maybe the reader who most needs the book wouldn’t have reached for it until now.

Q: What scripture passage played a part in the inspiration of this book?

This won’t seem like the typical scripture to inspire a contemporary novel, but readers will find deep in the story why this snippet of a familiar verse played such a key role. In many churches, as communion is served, we hear I Corinthians 11:23-24, “The Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is (represents) My body, which is [offered as a sacrifice] for you,’” (Amplified Bible).

I was deeply moved by the idea that Jesus showed us the depth of His love most significantly “on the night He was betrayed.” What would that look like in a husband/wife relationship — or any other relationship, for that matter? Can love shine brightest on the night it’s betrayed? That’s what love does: gives of itself when it makes the least sense.

Q: Normally something that happened in your own life also ignites a spark in the writing process. What personal experience did you draw from for A Fragile Hope?

I visited my mom at her small apartment often. We knew that before long, her congestive heart failure and other life-threatening issues would send her to a hospice residence facility. One afternoon shortly before that became necessary, her pastor came to the apartment to serve her communion. As he read that passage from I Corinthians, he got no farther than the word “betrayed” before I was in tears. The weight and depth and magnitude of the kind of love Jesus shows us bore down on me like a weighted blanket, smothering me with wonder in that tender, holy moment. It changes everything when we fully appreciate — or try to appreciate— the reality that love is at its most glorious when it sacrifices.

To keep up with Cynthia Ruchti, visit You can also follow her on Facebook (Cynthia Ruchti), Twitter (@cynthiaruchti) and Pinterest (cynthiaruchti). 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

David Winters' Driver Confessional

Seat belts are recommended if you’re going to open David Winters’ new book, Driver Confessional. Join Antonio, a ride-share driver who winds through the streets of Washington, D.C. in search of his next fare to support his young family and pay law school expenses. His easy manner and Italian good looks lead passengers to disclose a bit more than they intended. On her way to a midnight meeting in a Senate office building, a mysterious woman and her confession plunge Antonio and his police detective brother into international espionage, the Russian mob and corporate excess. Clues add up to danger and car chases pile up on ethical dilemmas.


Driver Confessional (May 2017)
Ride share driver Antonio cruises the streets of Washington, D.C. looking for his next fare.
He has an unusual gift for relaxing his customers and stimulating their desire to reveal more than they planned. By the completion of their ride, many feel so comfortable that they confess their sins great and small. Antonio’s faith guides his discussions and points him in new directions. Suddenly, his peaceful world is turned upside down by a mysterious business woman. As she heads to a midnight rendezvous, she confesses more than Antonio can handle. Her story sends him into a world of espionage, international terrorism and danger.

David Winters


David L Winters is an award-winning author, humorist and speaker, originally from Ohio, who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. His first book, Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace, won several awards including a Silver Illumination Award from the Jenkins Group and two Finalist Medals from the Next Generation Indies Book Awards.
Find out more about David at

Monday, May 22, 2017

Here I am blogging about The Bachelorette again. #thebachelorette

Photo from

I said at the end of last season's The Bachelor that I probably was not going to blog this season of The Bachelorette. After some down time, I decided I was especially in a blogging rut, so here we go.

This time around, the woman in search of love is Rachel Lindsey, the 31-year-old attorney from Dallas. The first non-white lead contestant which is what many critics said needed to happen long ago. There's a definite racial variety in the men this time around.

Rachel thought she had something going on with Nick, but went home after hometowns last season. I don't know why anyone was interested in Nick. But, we finally get to move past Nick.

Rachel met four of the men at the end of "The Women Tell All." Gotta be honest. I forgot about that and didn't include anything about it on my post about that episode.

On Good Morning America, she talked about telling producers she wanted to be entertained, so the parade of men coming out of the limos like a clown car is sure to be a circus.

Before the limos come, we have to do some special videos introducing some of the guys. I'll mix that info in down below when we get to the limos. (Marked with *.) I will never be able to keep track of all 31, by the way.

I'll just skip the whole segment where the other women from Nick's season (aka some of Rachel's closet friends) show up to encourage her and give advice. I was hoping to never see Corinne again, but... Some of the women talk about which of the four from "The Women Tell All" night that I don't remember. Someone knows someone who knew one of the guys, and he might not be there for the right reasons. Yawn. Already?

When Rachel arrives at the mansion, Chris Harrison asks if she really thinks she'll be able to find her husband since she was so skeptical. Cue first limo.

Peter - business owner - 30 - Madison, WI - I hate his blue plaid jacket. He also has a bow tie. I hate bow ties. It's cheezy. Wisconsin. Cheese.

*Josiah - prosecuting attorney - 28 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Family is big to him. He lost his brother to suicide after being bullied for being overweight. When Josiah was 7, he cut his brother down from the tree where he hung himself. He got into trouble as a teenager, and decided to work toward being like the lawyer that helped him to turn his life around. He has a tux with a bow tie. He says by the end, she "will have no reasonable doubt." I think she groans more than laughs at the law pun.

Bryan - chiropractor - 37 - Miami, FL - He speaks to her in Spanish. She gets that he said she looked spectacular. He's Columbian.

*Kenny - professional wrestler - 35 - Las Vegas, NV - I dislike him already. He's dramatic and sure to be cocky. He does have a daughter he wants a mom for. He makes a better first impression than I figured. He had a little dance move that stuck a chord.

Rob - law student - 29 - Houston, TX - It's the season of law, evidently. He's a nerdy white guy.

Iggy - Consulting Firm CEO - 30 - Chicago, IL - He's either Hawaiian or from a Polynesian Island. I bet he surfs. He wears sneakers with his tux. I could be so unfairly stereotyping him though.

Bryce - Firefighter - 30 - Orlando, FL - He comes in dress uniform and literally picks Rachel up off her feet.

Will - Sales manager - 28 - Miami, FL - He does his best Steve Urkel impression, gets back in the limo and comes back out "normal." I hated Steve Urkel back in the day, and I am not any more fond of the whole routine now.

*Diggy - senior inventory analyst - 31 - Chicago, IL - Diggy has 575 pair of sneakers and is obsessed with fashion. Diggy also talks about himself in the 3rd person.

Kyle - marketing consultant - 26 - Los Angeles, CA - He wants to show her his buns - his Jamaican buns.

Blake K. - US Marine Veteran - 29 - San Francisco, CA - Representing the Asians and pointing out his grandparents only only knew each other a couple of months before marrying. They have now been married 65 years

Brady - male model (they had to denote the male part?) - 29 - Miami, FL - He brings a block of ice and giant hammer so he can break the ice.

Dean - startup recruiter - 25 - Venice, CA - One of the men who already met Rachel. That night he made a crack about wanting to go black and never going back. He's nervous tonight to see how she reacts. He was nervous about the line, and asked what she thought. She says she thought it was cute.

Eric - personal trainer - 29 - Los Angeles, CA - Dancing is his jam. He's kind of awkward.

DeMario - executive recruiter - 30 - Century City, CA - This is another guy she already met. She did remember him. On WTA, he had tickets and a ring to fly to Vegas.

*Blake - Personal trainer and aspiring drummer - 31 - Marina Del Rey, CA - He talks about being testosterone driven and how his last relationship was sex-driven. Can't stand him either. He arrives with a marching band. Now I get why the aspiring drummer part was his caption earlier. It didn't make sense out of context at the time. He met her on the live show, and she did remember. Last time was evidently a boring and awkward intro. (Peter was impressed with the entrance and thinks he should have stepped up his game.

Fred - executive assistant - 27 - Dallas, TX - He brings a yearbook of when he was in third grade. Rachel was in 8th grade. He hasn't seen her in 15 years. She knew who he was as soon as he stepped out of the limo. She remembers him being a very bad kid.

Jonathan - tickle monster (no real job?) - 31 - New Smyrna Beach, FL - He is a weirdo. Something about his eyes. He wants to try to make her laugh, so asks her to hold out her hand, close her eyes, then he reaches in to tickle her. She dies laughing because she is so ticklish. Talk about awkward though. You can't just do that the first time you meet someone. He tickles some of the guys too. #uberawkard

Lee - singer/songwriter - 30 - Nashville, TN - He brings his guitar (and he isn't good) and makes up a stupid song I didn't understand.

*Alex - information systems supervisor - 28 - Detroit, MI - He's a gym rat who claims to be a nerd. I'm not sure what language his parents were speaking in the clip. Greek? He has a vacuum and claims to be part of the clean-up crew. I don't get it.

Milton - hotel recreation supervisor - 31 - North Bay Village, FL - He takes a selfie.

Adam - real estate agent - 26 - Dallas, TX - Brings his dummy, Adam, Jr. with him. It's odd. He doesn't have a moveable mouth, so it's not like he's going to try to be a ventriloquist.

Matt - construction sales rep - 32 - Merick, CT - He arrives dressed as a penguin. He heard she had a thing for penguins, and penguins mate for life. He waddles into the mansion.

Grant - ER doctor - 29 - New York, NY - Arrives in an ambulance.

Anthony - education software manager - 26 - Chicago, IL - He's soft spoken. These men are coming in quick, so there's not much to say.

Jamey - sales account executive - 32 - Santa Monica, CA - There's nothing to say about him.

*Jack Stone - attorney - 31 - Dallas, TX - He's an only child who was a momma's boy until his mom died in high school. Now, he wants to have a big family. I have no idea why we get his last name with the limo arrivals.

*Mohit - product manager - 26 - San Francisco, CA - His greatest accomplishment is launching his start-up. He is big into Bollywood dancing, even competing.

Jedidiah - another ER doc - 35 - Augusta, GA - They talk about his name being Biblical.

Michael - former pro basketball player - 26 - Chicago, IL - He seems short to have played basketball.

*Lucas - Whaboom - 30 - Woodside, CA - He has his own catch phrase, "Whaboom!" which much mean "loser." He needs to go already. Much like "twin," Whaboom is his job description. He has a t-shirt with it on there. I can't even explain how he makes an annoying fool of himself when he does his thing. From the limo, he has a megaphone announcing himself, including TMI about one of his man parts being bigger than the other. The men had been talking about how most guys had seemed normal up until now. This is what they have been waiting for.

That was definitely not saving the best for last. I'd say the opposite. 

As soon as Rachel comes in and does her toast, the first guy to ask for time is Josiah. The rest of the men are kicking themselves. Josiah tells his story. She loves full circle stories, and she says it's a beautiful one. The guys figure they are comparing "best case" lawyer stories.

Dean, who looks kind of plastic, moved to LA to be near the beach, so they play in a sandbox to build a sand castle.

There's lots of jumping around from snippet to snippet of conversation. Adam Jr. is hanging out on a couch with a glass of champagne. The men think he is creepy. Rachel is a little creeped out and tells Adam so.

The penguin wants to have a Michael Jackson vs. Prince debate. Rachel says, MJ, but penguin is on Prince's side.

Rachel has some time with Fred. She was his camp counselor when he was a horrible kid. She finds him attractive now, but she can't get over remembering him getting into trouble.

I find Bryan creepy. He's a chiropractor who is good with his hands. She was drawn to him when he got out of the limo. He likes her speaking Spanish to her. He sneaks in of the first kiss, and it was not just a pick. She enjoyed it even though she had planned to not kiss anyone that night.

Cue first impression rose delivery by Chris Harrison...

By the way, let me insert here that this is the most maddening night to blog. I have had to pause so many times to get everyone's info that I'm running behind.

Back to the men bickering and name calling. Who is compensating?

DeMario asks, "NSync or Back Street Boys?" They agree on NSync. She was impressed with his confidence on WTA.

The men start becoming obnoxious breaking in for time. They come in droves. They start to form a line. They start cutting in line.

The drunk of the night is evidently Mohit. Maybe it's Wahoo, I mean Whaboom. The doctors want to call a psych consult for him.

Random fact... Rachel doesn't like chocolate. Peter tries to bond over Wisconsin though. I don't know what tie she has to Wisconsin other than she dated Nick who was from Wisconsin (wasn't he?).

Whaboom gets his time. He takes off his jacket, and we learn the t-shirt is sleeveless. She might actually be entertained even though the rest of the guys hate him.

One guy's thing is to purr in her ear.

Rachel learns of Kenny's wrestling name and his daughter.

It's time for Rachel to give the first impression rose. She received it on her season and hopes it means as much to the man she gives it to as it did to her. She pulls Bryan out. "I don't know if it was how you told me I was going to be in trouble. I don't know if it was you speaking in Spanish... or the kiss..." He goes in for another kiss after he gets the rose. I don't see what was so intriguing about him myself, but to each their own. 

Mohit witnesses the kiss and screams, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" After he picks up his jaw from off the ground, that is.

Everyone gathers so that Chris Harrison can clink his glass. It's time for Rachel to prepare for the rose ceremony. 

So, we all know the producers will have her keep the ones that annoyed us. She has to have a cheat sheet somewhere since there are 31 and there's no way she remembers all the names. Here we go.

  1. Bryan already got the first impression rose.
  2. Peter
  3. Will, will you accept this rose?
  4. Jack
  5. Jamey
  6. Iggy
  7. Eric
  8. DeMario
  9. Jonathan (The Tickle Monster weirdo)
  10. Bryce
  11. Alex
  12. Kenny (I think he will go far after watching him more - watching him as the first video, I wasn't so sure.)
  13. Dean
  14. Matt (the penguin)
  15. Anthony
  16. Brady
  17. Josiah
  18. Lee
  19. Diggy
  20. Fred (even though he thought history was going to get the better of him)
  21. Adam (he was told to leave Adam Jr. behind)
  22. Blake E. (he seems possessive - he will go quickly)
  23. Lucas (who Whabooms his way to Rachel)
No one can understand the final choice. It was obviously a producer choice.

In the light of day, going home...
  1. Kyle
  2. Mohit (who will never get to Bollywood dance for us)
  3. Rob (gotta cull some attorneys)
  4. Blake K. (the former Marine)
  5. Milton (he didn't get to show all his outfits he brought)
  6. Michael (maybe she didn't want to do former pro athlete - I thought he would stick around a while)
  7. Grant (chiropractors over ER doctors, all the way it seems)
  8. Jedidiah (the other ER doctor)
With that, we see some highlights of the season. 

Lots of travel, lots of face sucking, lots of drama. Then, there's the tears. Questions about "the right reasons." Lee is going to be the country boy fight picker. Someone has a girlfriend. Some bleeding. 

Here's a spoiler. On GMA this morning, Rachel said she was allowed to say she was engaged and she's extremely happy. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This Little Light of Mine

Here's a little throwback...

This Little Light of Mine

This little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
Oh, this little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine

All around the neighborhood
I’m going to let it shine
All around the neighborhood
I’m going to let it shine
All around the neighborhood
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m going to let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m going to let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!
I’m going to let it shine
Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!
I’m going to let it shine
Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine