Friday, June 30, 2017

My week in Cincinatti

This week I had a work trip to Cincinnati where I basically stayed within the same three or four blocks for 5 days.

I had some good work-related dinners, but did because of how I had to schedule those, I didn't get to make it to a Reds game, and I sure didn't do one of the other fun things I did last year because I didn't have one of my co-workers with me.

I didn't buy one single mug (the only place I went with one was the airport where I bought one last year). I didn't take many pictures either.

This is the Carew tower, the tallest building in Cincinnati. The Hilton is in the part on the right. That's where I stayed.
I left my camera downstairs. I had a few more pictures. I will try to post more tomorrow.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dragon Seed

Join trusted Bible teacher Marty Machowski for a fictional adventure into the reality of spiritual warfare and how its shadows affect and change us. Don’t miss Marty’s new release, Dragon SeedIt’s a page-turning, young adult fiction story that invites older children and teens into the real-life struggles of Nick, who receives a handwritten, leather-bound copy of an old book—a family legend passed down to him from his great grandfather. The book, called Dragon Seed, leads Nick deep into his family’s history and introduces him to another angry young man who lived in the shadows (the shadows of the tombs). Like Nick, you’ll be shocked to discover where he fits in this story of epic proportions!


(New Growth Press, June 2017)
An angry teen, a desperate mother, a missing father, and a shadow lurking in the background.
Things were going from bad to worse for Nick and his family. Tempted to run away after yet another argument with his mom, Nick receives a handwritten, leather-bound copy of an old book—a family legend passed down to him from his great grandfather. The book, called Dragon Seed, leads Nick deep into his family’s history and introduces him to another angry young man who lived in the shadows (the shadows of the tombs). Like Nick, you’ll be shocked to discover where he fits in this story of epic proportions!
This page-turning, young adult fiction story invites older children and teens into the real-life struggles of Nick. But it also ushers them into an imaginative exploration of the life of the young man Jesus saved as he wandered through the tombs. Best-selling author Marty Machowski uses both stories to introduce the reality of spiritual warfare and how its shadows affect and change us.
Machowski, a trusted teacher for children of all ages, presents a thoroughly biblical view of spiritual warfare that emphasizes the importance of humility and dangers of pride. Teens will be drawn to the story of Nick and his struggles and will learn, as they read, to also identify the shadows in their own life and turn from them. While the biblical teaching is evident throughout the narrative of Dragon Seed, Machowski also includes a twelve-lesson Bible study at the end of the book to help teens ground their understanding of spiritual warfare on biblical principles.
Youth pastors, leaders, and parents will also want to explore with teens the small group study at the end of the book with its unique take on spiritual warfare that emphasizes the biblical theme of humility. This is a perfect book to read with a group and discuss together the implications of Nick’s struggles for their lives.
Marty Machowski


Marty Machowski is the Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over 25 years. Marty leads Promise Kingdom, the children’s ministry of Covenant Fellowship. He is the author of a systematic theology for children entitled The Ology, Long Story Short, Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God, The Gospel Story Sunday School Curriculum and the companion Gospel Story Children’s Bible. He and his wife, Lois, and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania area.
Find out more about Marty at

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Proceeds from book sales to help disabled children learn to ride bikes

 Part 2 of an interview with Mike H. Mizrahi,
Author of The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race

Mike Mizrahi’s The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race (Redemption Press) introduces readers to Anna Gaines, an insecure and introverted 19-year-old, who discovers she’s a natural on the “wheel” after a visit with her aunt in Brooklyn. Upon returning home to Chattanooga, she insists on the same rights men have to cycle in public. She becomes the first woman to ride the streets of Chattanooga, clad in the bloomers, the risqué apparel many New York women are wearing in 1895.

A firestorm ignites, pitting a few progressive thinkers against a city full of moralists intent on clinging to their post-Antebellum way of life. Anna finds herself in the middle of an explosive controversy she never envisioned. She is pitted against Peter Sawyer, the Cycle Club president who silently harbors a crush for her, in a five-mile bicycle race that will decide if women have the same capabilities as men to ride.

In addition to an entertaining story and a glimpse into history, Mizrahi hopes readers will see growing into the person he or she longs to become requires patience and courage in the shadows of adversity.

Q: Your leading lady, Anna, is described as an introvert, but she did something seemingly out of her nature. What exactly did she do, and what inspired her to break out of her shell and try something new?

Anna declares war on the childhood insecurities she is carrying into young adulthood. At 13, a fall from her horse resulted in a broken leg, a permanent limp and a shattered self-image. Now 19, Anna starts her emotional rehabilitation by moving from the family farm into a women’s boardinghouse in the city. An expert seamstress from years of self-imposed social confinement, she lands a job at Loveman’s Department Store and gets her first taste of freedom. It’s really the accomplishment of Annie Londonderry, a mother of three in her mid-20s, that breaks the chains binding Anna. On a visit with her aunt in Brooklyn, Anna learns that this adventurer is finishing a bicycle ride around the world . . . clad in bloomers. Anna’s aunt, a college professor, takes Anna to a riding school, where she takes to “the wheel.” A second taste of freedom on the bicycle leads her to stand against an entire community determined to keep such inappropriate behavior from their streets.

Q: Tell us about your partnership with iCan Shine.

I will be donating 50% of the proceeds from the sale of each book to iCan Shine, Inc., an international 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization that teaches children, teens and young adults with disabilities to ride a conventional two-wheel bicycle. iCan Shine conducts more than 100 five-day programs in 35 US states and four provinces in Canada, serving approximately 3,000 people with disabilities each year. 

I hope to help provide those with disabilities the chance to discover they’re a natural on the “wheel,” much like Anna from the book. Imagine the smiles on the faces of kids and young adults with disabilities as they experience a newfound freedom on the seat of a two-wheeler, just like Anna found the same independence on the seat of a bicycle. The tie-in is perfect.

You can learn more about iCan Shine at   

Q: As a writer, you plan to write in the historical genre, at least for now. What drew you to write about life at the turn of the 20th century?

I had an idea for a different book, which I still intend to write, about the era of Yellow Journalism (circa 1900-03). So much change was in the air, much like today. Industrialization created a massive shift in America from an agrarian to a more urban society; this brought about increased opportunities for men and women to attend school and take jobs outside the home. The nation experienced a massive wave of immigration, people from every nation seeking the ideals of liberty and opportunity. Sensational news coverage, particularly from New York, distorted the information Americans were reading, much like today. However we were still a country of strong faith, and family was the backbone of our culture, all of which attracts me as a writer of historical fiction.

Q: You didn’t write your first novel until after you retired. Have you always had the bug to write? If so, why did you wait so long to get started?

Yes, the bug burrowed deep inside me long ago. I’ve been writing since high school, in one form or another. Take songwriting, one of my favorite pastimes. It’s a puzzle, crafting words that tuck neatly into the melody of the song. At the same time, the lyrics must tell a story or express an idea that moves the listener. Anyway, having pursued a career in journalism and corporate public relations, I thought writing a book would be the next frontier. I guess the busyness of life got in the way; then I noticed one morning the kids are grown and gone, and I’m about to retire. However, it wasn’t until Karen and I returned from a mission trip to Africa in 2013 that I got the idea for my first manuscript. Looking back, I wish I had taken the plunge long before, but God willing there’s much more ahead.

Q: The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race is the first book you have published but was not the first book you ever wrote. Tell us about the experience that inspired you to write your first novel.

We went with a handful of members from our church to the Democratic Republic of Congo to teach business and education principles. One day while taking a break outside the church where we taught, a woman asked about the large gathering inside. She wore western clothing and appeared to be in her late 20s. As it turned out, she was born in Bunia, the city we were in, but she left to attend college in San Francisco, became a social worker and never came back. I asked if she ever would. She said she was thinking about it, and I told her Bunia needed her. Just then a man on a motorbike pulled up, and she got on and waved goodbye. Three months later I had a 90,000-word manuscript about an African-American social worker who returns to her city of birth to see her dying father and is caught up in a rebel attack. The story involves a great chase through Virunga Nation Park, the gorilla mountains.

Q: What piece of inspirational wisdom do you hope readers ride away with after reading The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race?

True and lasting joy comes not from things or experiences, but from what we hold in our hearts as excellent, praiseworthy, just and pure. To grow into the person we long to become requires patience and courage in the shadows of adversity. Having the courage to conquer our inner doubts and pursue our dreams can transform us and those around us — even change history.

To keep up with Mike H. Mizrahi, visit You can also follow him on Facebook (AuthorMikeMizrahi) and Twitter (@MikeHMiz).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

To spoil it... eventually, they both went home on #thebachelorette

I was out socializing and business networking, so I missed the first 20 minutes of The Bachelorette. I reserve the right to come back and blog about that later when I can access the it online. However, I know the most important thing: Lee went home.

UPDATED: I watched the first of the episode when I got home.

Rachel decided she didn't trust Lee, so sent him home, but decided that she wasn't ready to give the date rose to Kenny either. She probably wished she let them both go when Kenny went off to rub it in Lee's face instead of getting onto the helicopter. She did spend more of the evening with Kenny and eventually gives him the rose.

I joined the show right as Kenny is talking to his daughter on the phone and immediately before the rose ceremony while Josiah is confidently telling Bryan he believes fully that he will be the last one left. Josiah who needs to just shut his mouth.

Rachel makes her statement that the people going are the people she does not see as her husband in case there were any doubts. Will, Bryan and Kenny have their roses. Six of the eight others will get roses and two will go home.

  1. Dean
  2. Eric
  3. Peter
  4. Alex
  5. Adam
  6. Matt

Josiah doesn't think anyone expected him to go home. Josiah also thinks she is sending home all the black guys. Maybe. Maybe not. Anthony also got sent home, so maybe.

Now, it's on to Denmark.

First date card: "Eric, I'm hoping to cOPEN." Something like that since they are in Copenhagen.

They tour the city from the canals running through the city. Then, they get in a public hot tub where there's some drunk naked swarthy Denmarkians. I don't know if that's a word, and I'm not going to look it up.

The second card arrives, "Dean, Kenny, Bryan, Alex, Matt, Peter, Adam - I have taken a Viking to you guys. " Will gets the next one-on-one.

Back to Eric... the world's second biggest amusement park where they whack-a-mole and do bumper cars. There's also a carousel and Ferris wheel. Over a burger, Rachel wants to know more about him and his past, not just the present. He never experienced love growing up. I honestly tuned out the rest because I've got other things on my mind. If they ate any of that hamburger, they probably wished they didn't after the roller coaster. He gets his rose.

Moving on to the group date. The group rows a boat Viking style, then learn to fight like Vikings. There's a wrestling type game with Rachel. Then men pushing each other outside of a ring. After several events, the two fighting for the championship are Kenny and Adam. They duel and instead of getting each other with their wooden swords, their shields get each other in the eyebrow creating a gash. After both men get their Band-aids, Kenny is crowned the winner.

That night, Rachel and Bryan talk and kiss and kiss more. She thinks he accepts her for who she is. She is smitten.

Back at the hotel, will tells Eric he normally dates white girls, but is in to Rachel. I'm thinking about work stuff I still need to do tonight, so everything is blah, blah, blah tonight. 

Kenny and Matt talk about how Kenny feels he hasn't been advancing with Rachel as much as he hoped lately. Maybe he'll get his time as the winner for the day.

Rachel and Matt talk about Kenny. She's worried about his eye. Matt says he is fine physically, but struggling emotionally.

Kenny thinks the stakes are so much higher because of his daughter. Kenny and Rachel talk. Kenny thinks they can get there, but he doesn't know if they are there yet. After the two-on-one, he's insecure with where they are. He wants some reassurance as they get closer to hometowns. Rachel tells him if he's feeling that way, if she's 100% honest, she thinks he ought to go home to be with his daughter.

Rachel goes back to the group and tells them that he did send Kenny home to his daughter and that it was a mutual conclusion. Rachel gives the date rose to Peter. I don't know why.

It's time for Will's date. We didn't see it, but his date card said something about Rachel wanting him to be her Sweedy. Their date is in Sweden.

They stroll the city and admire the Swedish architecture. Then, a couple that has been married 35 years give a little advice. The most romantic thing they have done is hold hands. She wants more from him. He doesn't take advantage of their time together.

They go back to Copenhagen for dinner. She tries to get him to talk. He talks about mostly dating white women since he grew up in a neighborhood that was white. Rachel grew up in a similar situation, but dated mostly black guys. (Back at the hotel the discussion is on the same thing.)

The conversation moves on to past relationships before she asks him why there hasn't been any passion between them so far. He can't explain it. At any rate, she let's him go instead of giving him a rose.

It's time for another rose ceremony, even though she has sent two people home since the last one. At the moment, there are 7 men. Peter and Eric have roses. Four more will get a rose while one will go home.

Rachel starts talking to the men, but gets really emotional and leaves the room for a moment.

  1. Bryan
  2. Matt
  3. Dean
  4. Adam
That means Alex (who Josiah called the Russian KGB spy) is headed home. 

That's it for this week!

Monday, June 26, 2017

When in doubt, send them both home #thebachelorette

I am in Cincinnati this week, and thought I was going to have plans tonight, but haven't heard from the person I was supposed to meet up with. That's ok though. I'm so tired from not sleeping well and having a travel day that I don't mind. The problem is staying up to blog on The Bachelorette.

I can't promise to be able to blog tomorrow night though. I have a dinner meeting.

At the end of the last group date, Kenny pulls Lee outside to confront him about what he told Rachel. That can't be good. We'll have to come back to that though. 

Rachel is talking it up with Bryan out on a boat. He's talking about things being too good to be true and how they must be a perfect match. He's not caught up in any drama, only her, so she loves that. 

Back to the "not dead issue" between Lee and Kenny. Kenny says that Rachel thinks he's an aggressive person thanks to what Lee tells her. Lee keeps interrupting Kenny. He is the snake Kenny accuses him of being. 

Kenny is calm, but Lee talks about how violent he is being. Lee is trying to provoke him. 

Rachel comes back in to all the men (there were like 12 guys on the date). It's time to give a date rose. It goes to Bryan. I'm still not seeing what she sees, but more power to her. Or to him. Whatever. 

Kenny congratulates Bryan, then gives a speech about how Bryan has done it right and not been a snake. Lee says something that gets a bleep to Kenny. He accuses Kenny of threatening him again. Kenny calls Lee names calmly, then walks away. 

The last date of the week is with Jack. Both are attorneys who are the same age and live in Dallas, but are they too similar to work?

First comes a horse drawn carriage ride, then dance lessons. Jack isn't much of a dancer. He blames it on watching her the whole time while she was trying to learn the moves. 

Jack is comfortable and happy when with Rachel. Rachel isn't sure if there something there even though she thinks there should be. 

Meanwhile back at the resort. Lee tells Will about what he told Rachel. Lee is trying to pull people over to his side. Will doesn't want to use the word aggressive and tries to explain the reason why is how black males are perceived. Will explains that Lee using that word feels like a racial thing to Kenny. 

Jack looks at the camera weird. He bows his head, and looks up with his eyes. He does the same with Rachel. He thinks something is happening quickly. She doesn't get the romantic feelings though.

Jack loves parents, or so he says. He asks about her dad's sense of humor. Jack thinks he gets her dad, even though he doesn't actually know him. Rachel asks what they would do back in Dallas together. He just wants to lay in bed and lock the door. Rachel doesn't much care for that idea. After spending time together, she doesn't feel like she knows him more. Rachel tells him even if two people have a lot in common, some X factor matters. She picks up the rose. He's giddy. However, she tells him there's a romantic connection that's missing, so she can't give him the rose. He's crushed as Rachel walks him out. 

The next day is rose ceremony day. No cocktail party is needed because she knows what she wants to do. Letting Jack go clears some things up. 

Iggy doesn't think he has had enough time, especially after his conflict with Josiah.

Kenny thinks he's doomed because of Lee.

The men who already had roses: Dean and Bryan.

  1. Eric
  2. Peter
  3. Adam
  4. Will
  5. Matt
  6. Alex
  7. Josiah
  8. Anthony
  9. Kenny (who has been making slithering snake hand gestures)
  10. Lee (who prays for people with issues)

Going home are the Tickle Monster (Jonathan who has to tickle her ribs on the way out) and Iggy (who can cry some big tears and learned a lot about himself).

It's time to take the show on the road, so it's off to Oslo, Norway they go. 

The first one-on-one date is with Bryan. Is there emotional to go along with physical?

They go to the top of an Olympic ski jump to see the best view of Oslo. They are going to repel off the 187 foot ski jump. Rachel thinks it's symbolic because 187 is murder. (A legal term? The producer didn't get it.) I could do without the mid-air loud, smoochy kissing on their way down. Once they reach the ground, more kissing.

Rachel gets bored really easily, and Bryan does not bore her. She thinks he may be perfect.

Will and Eric are talking. Eric notices only one of the five one-on-one dates has been with one of the black men. Maybe she's not interested in "the brothers." Will says of the men that have been there, they are all different, so she doesn't think race is an issue. 

Rachel talks about her sisters over dinner. Her gold glitter eye shadow is too much, by the way. They talk about how they were in high school. He had a four year relationship, blah, blah, blah. He wants her to know where he stands. He's falling in love with her. He gets the rose.

At the hotel, Lee asks the other guys how they think it is going with Bryan when the date card arrives. 

The date card is something about needing a man that's good with his hands. It's a group date for Adam, Dean, Anthony, Peter, Matt, Will, Alex, Eric, and Josiah.

That leaves Kenny and Lee for a two-on-one date. 

After everyone leaves, Bryan gives Kenny advice about dealing with Lee and being the bigger man.

So back to the being good with your hands... the men are going to play handball which is popular over in Europe. It's a combination of football, basketball and water polo according to Rachel. A couple of guys, including Will have a little experience, or so they say. The coach thinks they are a bunch of goof offs. Dean wearing his supporter on the outside of his clothes only plays into why the coach must think that. Rachel and her red team wins.

Back at the hotel, Kenny Facetimes with his daughter. Kenny gets teary as he tells her how much he misses her. Lee is in the gym lifting weights in his boots. 

Due to his great performance that day, Rachel takes off Will to talk first. They talk about past hurts. She thinks it's going well with him since he was vulnerable and open.

Alex reads a letter to her. Some other guy had song lyrics embroidered on something for her. Eric has a creepy expression when they talk. Josiah wants to grow old with her and just compliments and compliments her, even when she points out he never asks questions when they are together.

The official date card arrives back at the hotel. "Kenny and Lee - Your fate is up in the air. ~ Rachel." There's a second card, "Two men, one rose. One stays, one goes. ~ Chris Harrison."

More conversations back on the date. Rachel is into Peter too. Some of these guys are still running together for me. Especially since she's making out with so many. They take it from the balcony to the hot tub. It gets pretty hot and heavy there. The guys obviously notice he as gone for a while. Rachel follows shortly after to sit with everyone and hand out the date rose.

Amazingly, even after the hot tub happenings, she gives the rose to Will. Peter can't quite figure this one out.

It's time for Kenny and Lee's date. I'm not looking forward to this. When in doubt, send them both him. That's what I say. 

Kenny has done some things wrong, but Lee is worse. Rachel wants some clarity on both. They go on a helicopter ride and end up in a beautiful wilderness area. There are waterfalls, a river, and plenty of trees. You know it has to be in middle of nowhere because every two-on-one is so that someone can be left alone out in middle of nowhere.

Lee is annoying early. Kenny decides to remain calm and focus on his purpose there. Rachel takes Kenny off to talk first.

Kenny talks about how he has realized they haven't moved forward the past couple of weeks. However, he's not looking for a week-to-week thing. He wants a partner for life and someone to be an example for his daughter. Then, he addresses the Lee situation and how he thinks Lee had to lash out to get attention after he did yell that night. Rachel sees that Kenny is fighting for the relationship. Rachel has a gut feeling he is being sincere.

Kenny goes back to the table where Lee waits before Rachel does. There's a lot of silence, then Kenny tells him to look at where he is and what he's doing.

Rachel comes back to take Lee off. Lee starts off tattling on what Kenny said to him and how he acted. Lee tells of some dark side Kenny has, especially when he drinks. Lee doesn't want to talk about him all the time though.

Rachel wanted clarity. What she has gotten is too different stories and exaggerations. She doesn't know who to believe. She wanted to leave lawyer Rach at home, but she needs to get to the bottom of this. She takes Kenny off again.

Rachel thinks she needs to be open and honest with him now. She tells him about how violent and aggressive Lee said he was. He denies it all.

She needs some time to think.

Kenny returns to Lee laughing his head off. Not really sure why.

To be continued tomorrow...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Common Love

From two and a half years ago. I just can't convince my current kids to do a video!

A Common Love

By Charles F. Brown
Used by permission. CCLI # 1132191

A common love for each other
A common gift to the Savior  
A common bond holding us to the Lord

A common strength when we’re weary
A common hope for tomorrow          
A common joy in the truth of God’s Word

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Cut cookbooks, because I am sure not cooking

The project of the week: cut cookbooks.

In addition to our cut Readers Digest books, we now have cookbooks. Doing patterns for these has been on my to-do list for months. I had to go ahead and get them done and just finished the patterns this weekend, so we have some ready. These are $18 each.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Flowery Friday

As usual, as of late, I'm short on blog content and time, so just sharing a happy little flower post. This hibiscus was a twig of a plant (literally) when I planted it, and I stuck it in the pot with something else just to plant it. I thought it froze over the winter, but it's growing like crazy now in the same pot along with an avocado tree. I thought it froze to the point of death too. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The keys to lasting change

Part 1 of an interview with
Jim Herrington
and Trisha Taylor,
Authors of Learning Change

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), 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.

Q: Explain the learning process involved with making a change. How is the transformational learning model different from other methods or models of learning?

Traditional learning involved mastering information. If I’m trying to improve my marriage or learn to be a good deacon, I go to this class, read this book or listen to this podcast. I get information. The transformational learning model involves three movements: gathering information, putting it into practice and then reflecting on the results. This is an ongoing process that increases one’s mastery throughout time. For us, learning has not occurred when you master the information. It has only occurred when you master the practice. In other words, it’s not enough to know different until you can actually do different. Because we believe in the power of the learning community, we believe this happens most effectively when we are engaging these three movements together with other people and sharing our learning.

Q: What are the keys required for real change?

First, the pain of not changing must be greater than the pain of changing. There must be an intrinsic motivation for learning because almost all learning involves loss: giving up some things to gain other things. Unless there is intrinsic motivation, you will rarely stay the course. Second, you need hope about a possible future that inspires you. Third, you need a good coach who can encourage you and hold you accountable to do the hard work.

Q: Why is dreaming such an integral part of change?

There is both a push and a pull to change. The push is the lack of results, the breakdowns, the awareness that what you are doing is not getting you the results you want. The pull is a vision of what is possible for you as a fully alive human being and what is possible for us in our families and communities. Without the pull, the push can’t be sustained throughout time.

The dream is the “hope about a possible future” mentioned above. We need to have a picture of what God can do that is increasingly clear and compelling. It’s crucial that this dream opens up new possibilities to us; without a clear and compelling dream, we will settle for doing more of the same, just a little bit differently. This is much of what the Bible offers us — stories, poems and word-pictures about God’s dream for us and for our world, what it will look like when the shalom of God is realized in our lives.

Q: How does a church leader take what he/she learns about change and the changes he/she makes personally and move the congregation to changing as a whole?

First, we don’t believe a leader can do this. It takes a leadership team committed to the journey of deep change throughout time. In our book we talk about 10 practices (four values, five skills sets and one end game) congregations can master to journey into the future effectively. A team of leaders who are at the center of the life of a congregation can begin by taking their own journey of mastery. Leaders need to learn together to embody the skills that empower effective change. Second, they need to help their congregation engage a posture of ongoing learning. They need to create systems and structures, experiences and processes that help more and more people in the congregation: (1) know what the practices are, and (2) have safe, shame-free learning environments where an increasing number of people are gaining greater mastery of the practices.

Leaders are most effective when they are learning to live differently and then sharing their learning with others. This is different from telling people how they should change. As leaders are taking on this learning in their own lives — and joining with others who are doing the same — they will also learn important skills to lead change (for example, the chapter on Generating and Sustaining Creative Tension) and to see the system as a whole and intervene effectively. They will be able to manage their own anxiety in the natural pushback of the system.

Q: What kind of leadership is required to move a congregation of many views and opinions through a process of change as one body?

There are several parts to this answer: 
  • We see the power of loving, patient, persistent, long-term (10-15 years) leadership. There are no quick fixes to the deep challenges and changes that this new era demands.
  • We believe it’s a kind of leadership that grows increasingly comfortable with sustaining creative tension as missional experiments are conducted off the map.
  • It is leadership focused on managing ourselves in an anxious system, not on changing others.
  • It is able to tolerate the discomfort and even pain of leading change in a system that naturally resists change, as all systems do.
  • It is leadership that can let go of control and move toward dialogue, collaboration and partnership, especially across boundaries.
  • It’s leadership that is willing to let go of the posture of the expert and take on the posture of a learner.

Q: In what ways is the church losing its impact here in America? What does and doesn’t need to happen for the church to regain its ground?

There are a number of major studies documenting the deep and growing decline of the church, both in terms of constituencies and influence. 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. What doesn’t need to happen is for congregations to double down and work harder at 20th-century strategies and ways of thinking. What does need to happen is nothing short of the transformation of congregations across the country. We hold this congregational transformation is not possible apart from a journey of personal transformation. Personal transformation is found in the lost art of spiritual formation. That lost art is recaptured in our work in the Faithwalking ministry.

Also, we are actually not interested in helping the church regain its ground or recover something it had in the past. We believe God is doing a new work in a new era, and we want to equip churches to join that work. History tells us the church might have to decrease in order to increase, that it may have to give up influence or power to engage the culture differently. The culture is changing more rapidly than we even fully understand. We can’t go back.

Q: Is there a destination churches should hope to arrive at after reading Learning Change?

There is not so much a destination as there is growing capacity to stay deeply and meaningfully engaged in an ongoing journey of joining God on God’s mission in a rapidly changing world. As that journey unfolds, congregations will have to reinvent themselves over and over. There is a lot of hope to be found when you have confidence you have the tools to change (reinvent yourself) as your context changes.

Learn more about Learning Change at

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Church membership is more important than you may think

Part 1 of an interview with Jeremy Kimble,
Author of 40 Questions about Church
Membership and Discipline

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 Church (Kregel Academic/May 27, 2017), Dr. Jeremy Kimble recognizes and addresses the many puzzling questions about the critical role of the church in the life of believers.

Q: What is the most important thing for readers to understand about church membership?

Church membership is not solely about what you can get out of a church. Instead, membership points us toward commitment and mutual accountability. 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.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges the church as an institution faces today, both from the inside and the outside?

Internally, there could be any number of challenges, but I think one major issue the church must face is the inherent individualism that exists in our churches. We do not often have a culture of authenticity and openness in our local churches. Instead, we look the part, fulfill our church duties and attend what we need to, but we never get beyond the surface. A real need exists to get past all of that, and as members, commit to loving, teaching, rebuking and encouraging one another. This involves people who are open and transparent enough to share their lives with others. In this way, we can show love and pursue holiness as a community.

Externally, we see increasing pressure to conform to the standards of the world, especially in certain areas (e.g., sexuality, gender, materialism, etc.). It seems in the West that if we continue to pursue faithfulness to God’s Word, the disparity between the church and the world will become more evident. Churches will likely have some difficult choices to make in the years ahead, as ostracization seems inevitable. However, this challenge is also a great opportunity for the church to display the love and holiness of God in very manifest ways.

Q: Why is it important to be a member of a local church? Isn’t being a Christian enough?

Being a Christian is certainly the key starting point, but joining a church in membership is also crucial for a few reasons. First, church leaders are told to keep watch over their flock (1 Peter 5:1-4) and that they will have to give an account for the people they oversee (Hebrews 13:17). If this is the case, pastors must know who they are overseeing, and church membership makes clear whom they are to oversee. Second, we are told to exhort one another day after day so we are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12-13). Of course, I can do this for any Christian, but it makes the most sense to do this for a particular group of people to whom I am committed. Finally, modern-day church membership adheres to the overall pattern seen in Scripture. Israel, though not the church, was a distinct nation with its own “membership” that was distinct from other peoples. The New Testament church speaks typically of local churches made up of certain people who are committed to one another, exercising a certain kind of authority, fulfilling “one another” commands.

Q: What qualifications of church membership are universal across denominational or doctrinal lines?

While there will be differences of opinion regarding baptism and the timing of granting someone membership status in a church, denominations would generally agree full members of their church be people who are regenerate. If a church is its membership (i.e. the church is not a building, but a people), then this is especially important. There would also be widespread agreement that particular responsibilities are inherent to church membership. Pastors do want to see passive consumers in their churches. There is founded expectation members will be involved in the work of the church and the lives of other members.

Q: What responsibilities does each member have to one another and their local church?

There is great responsibility inherent in church membership. We are responsible to submit to elected leadership, all the while knowing God has granted the keys of the kingdom to the entire membership (Matthew 16:19), thus striking a balance in authority. We must be proactive as members in working for others in their progress and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:25). The entire body of believers must exercise their spiritual gifts for the good of others (Romans 12:3-8) and regu­larly attend the gatherings of the church (Hebrews 10:24-25) so as to edify others and be edified themselves. One could name off other responsibilities as well, noting members should be good listeners to sermons, biblical theologians and devoted to pray for one another. Finally, one must confront unrepentant sin in the lives of their fellow members, in the hopes they heed that rebuke and repent.

Watch for part 2 of this interview where Dr. Kimble will discuss church discipline.

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Captain's Daughter book giveaway

Be transported to 1880s London and meet a talented musician and singer in the new Victorian romance novel from Jennifer Delamere,The Captain’s Daughter. When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. Meanwhile London holds bitter memories for Nate Moran that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.
Enter to win a copy of The Captain’s Daughter. Five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced July 10th on the Litfuse blog!


(Bethany House, June 2017)
Warm-hearted Victorian romance brings 1880s London to life.
When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.
A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.


Jennifer Delamere’s debut Victorian romance, An Heiress at Heart, was a 2013 RITA award finalist in the inspirational category. Her follow-up novel, A Lady Most Lovely, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and the Maggie Award for Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers. Jennifer earned a BA in English from McGill University in Montreal, where she became fluent in French and developed an abiding passion for winter sports. She’s been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades, and lives in North Carolina with her husband.
Find out more about Jennifer at

Monday, June 19, 2017

Someone is being a real jerk on #thebachelorette

Thank goodness for the recap at the beginning of the show because without it, I couldn't tell you how the last episode of The Bachelorette ended two weeks ago.

I'm not sure if that's a sign of A) having too much going on, B) seriously having memory issues or C) just not caring. I think the answer is a combination of A and B, and hopefully not D) all of the above. Good Morning America (or was it The Today Show?) said this morning that multi-tasking as bad for the brain and goodness knows I'm always multi-tasking. The fact that I can't remember from this morning may be a bad sign for option B.  I flipped between both. I think it was The Today Show.


Anyway, we ended last time with Lee and Eric talking smack about each other and Rachel considering taking Eric's rose back. There's a bunch of mouthing going on, and while I do think Eric is being a moron, Lee is an even bigger jerk. Lee obnoxiously interrupts Kenny and Rachel even though he had already had time with Rachel. This time Lee gives a sob story about his grandfather who had cancer and carried around this pocket knife for 50 years. He used the knife to carve something in a piece of wood as a gift for her.

Dean talks to the cameras about Lee and dances around directly calling him a racist because he only has trouble with certain men.

When Bryan found out that Lee went back for more time, he is annoyed as well. However, it's Kenny that decides he's going to steal Rachel back. When we get back from commercial though, it's Bryan we see talking to her. I don't see the same in him that Rachel evidently does. (I've read spoilers.)

Oh, maybe Kenny wasn't going to interrupt them. He decides to have a one-on-one conversation with Lee talking about snaking time with Rachel. Lee is rude and tells Kenny to get to the point. Rachel can hear Lee and Kenny getting into it while talking to a guy I have never noticed before. (Matt, maybe?) The guy defends Kenny, and Rachel says, it's probably because Lee interrupted Kenny.

Lee says the best way to make someone mad is to laugh at them, so he just sits around and laughs at people.

Rachel is over this drama already. She doesn't want to talk to the cameras anymore. Chris Harrison comes in and tells her he will facilitate whatever she wants to do. He goes out and tells the guys she has had enough time at the party and is ready for the rose ceremony.

When she does her little speech, she tells them the night didn't go like she thought it would go. It was heavy and frustrating, but there were some good conversations. She underestimated how hard it would be.

So, those with the roses: Alex, Anthony, and Eric.

  1. Will
  2. Dean
  3. Jonathan
  4. Peter
  5. Adam
  6. Josiah
  7. Bryan
  8. Matt
  9. Jack
  10. Iggy
  11. Kenny
  12. Lee (CRUD!!!)
Going home are Bryce, Diggy, and Brady. Of course, all the men thought there were some bad choices made. 

At the final toast of the night, Rachel proposes they leave all the drama behind them.

It's time to hit the road and give the family who lives in the mansion their house back. Next stop, Hilton Head, SC.

This is one of the very few places they travel to that I have ever been. (I do think they went to Albuquerque once and I shook my head trying to figure out exactly why.)

Bryan really wants a one-on-one this week. Kenny feels bad about last week, so hopes he gets it to clear the air.

The first date card arrives and neither gets it.

"Dean - Our love is about to take off."

Rachel and Dean take off in a Jeep, driving down the roads and through lots of trees with Spanish moss that is neither Spanish nor moss. It's a member of the pineapple family. Sorry. That stuck with me from the tour guides on my own trip to the area. 

They go to a nearby town and pull out into field. As they sit sipping their beverages, the Goodyear blimp lands to pick them up for a ride. She's always had a fascination with blimps. He's scared of heights. Oh, and he also gets motion sickness.

Once they are in the air, Rachel asks to sit in the driver's seat. She takes the controls. This makes Dean more nervous. He gets over it when they start kissing.

The guys see them fly by and know it is them from the message on the side.

The new date card arrives: "Alex, Anthony, Peter, Bryan, Jonathan, Adam, Matt, Kenny, Lee, Iggy, Eric, Will and Josiah. I want to see who is ready for commitment. "

That means Jack gets the one-on-one. Lee lays on the pressure and says things like, "There's no shame in going home on a one-on-one date." He's just obnoxious.

Back to Dean. She needs to see if something is there, and if he is ready for this since he is younger than she is (something the guys were talking about earlier). At dinner, they talk about family. Her parents are together and had a strict church upbringing. He talks about what his family did together. At 9 years old, his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought and beat it until he is 14 when the cancer reoccurred. She died and with his older siblings out of the house and dad gone a lot of the time, he was by himself quite a bit between 15-18. 

He looks forward to being a father and wants a close knit family. It's emotional. She tries not to cry so he won't cry more. He met her high expectations for the day, so she presents him with the date rose. Of course, the date isn't over. They have a concert in the streets to go to. Who is Russell Dickerson? I have no idea. Since I am multi-tasking and running behind, I fast forwarded through the dancing and kissing during the concert. It's always the same scene.

The next day, the group date is on a yacht. Don't worry, there's sure to be one-on-ones on a date later on.

This is her largest group date and she's a little concerned about last time's drama. They start off with a little dance contest. Some limbo... The most fit guys have taken their shirts off. The scrawnier (white guys) still have on theirs. The testosterone starts to ooze as they try to one-up each other with push-ups and rapping (Kenny), etc. Peter never should have tried to rap. This portion of the date comes to an end, then they head off to a spelling bee. 

Josiah thinks he has an awesome vocabulary. I think he has issues creating coherent sentences. Adam isn't sure if he is going to pass the intellectual test here. 

Kenny can't spell champagne, but then again, I spell it wrong most of the time when I type it on this blog. He is out on the first round and had a much harder word than the others.

Iggy loses out in the second round. Adam too. Physde is not the same as facade so Eric is out. Same for the others until only Will and Josiah are left. 

I'm not much of a speller myself. These words are a challenge. Josiah's final word is polyamorous which he correctly spells and wins.

That night, they all head to cocktail portion. Josiah is drinking out of his big ol' trophy. 

Rachel and Peter talk about being barefoot in Wisconsin and if they would move for the right person. She is licensed to practice in Wisconsin. 

When talking to Eric, we learn that cleaning is a stress reliever for her. He's back on the great side again after last week. 

With Iggy, they talk about the other men. Iggy picks Josiah as the guy he throws under the bus since he pulls himself away from the others. Iggy justifies it by saying he is protective of her. 

When he gets back with the guys, Iggy tells Josiah his name came up in relationship to tension in the house. Last week it was Eric, this week it's Josiah. More mouthing ensues. 

Then, Lee does some throwing under the bus in his time with Rachel. He doesn't like Kenny. He is just a trouble maker, pure and simple. 

The guys are sitting around later talking about the rose that is up for grabs. Kenny and Rachel talk away from the rest of the men. Kenny is speaking in verse again. He verbally lays it on thick. She brings up what is bothering her. She brings up hearing him yelling with Lee. She said not only did she hear it, she talked with Lee to fill in blanks. Kenny has to defend himself. Rachel isn't as laid back with Kenny as she was with Lee. Lee has her convinced he is correct. Kenny doesn't have a chance to not come off bad which is unfortunate. Kenny says that was not how he usually is. Bryan takes Rachel away and leaves Kenny on the bench thinking about how Rachel's body language said she was taking Lee's side.

Meanwhile, Lee is being a jerk with some guys in the bar. 

Kenny comes back in and asks to talk to Lee. He takes him outside. All the guys know something is about to go down. Iggy is going to stay out of it until punches are thrown. 


Monday and Tuesday night episodes, and the problem with that, I'm on a business trip. However, there's a good chance I will just blog from the hotel. Sigh.

As a final note, you know I never liked Corinne from last season, but I wouldn't wish anything bad on her. What they are saying happened on the set of Bachelor in Paradise was terrible. I hope they revamp the show if they bring it back so there is not such a flow of alcohol, and therefore, less chance of bad behavior. That show needs to be cleaned up. 

With that said, I am relieved I won't be able to convince myself to blog on it this summer. Thank goodness for that.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sing and Be Happy

Today, I got the kids to sing, but there was refusal to sing if I got my phone out, so here is another repeat video from three years ago. We sang the same song and had similar chorus issues.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Some people are flakey

Since I had been purging my closets, etc., we had a garage sale this weekend. For whatever reason, it kind of flopped. Usually there are more people at garage sales in this town, so I don't know what happened. That's really not the point of the post though.

In order to get people there, I posted some pictures in the buy/sale/trade groups on Facebook. I do this with our craft items and sometimes get customers out of the deal. Other times people from a nearby town have me make stuff, then flake on me. 

The problem I have had today, and in the past, is people ask about items, say they want them, and then make no effort to come get them. I clearly posted we were having a garage sale, no one bothered to notice it said, "Saturday," and asked about Sunday. No one around here does Sunday garage sales. 

I had numerous people ask about a set of tables. I gave prices. One guy said he would message when he got off work. Nothing. Stop being flakey! 

Don't ask unless you are serious. It just wastes everyone's time and annoys the seller. 

One woman wanted a set of palm tree hat boxes I had. There were 5 sizes for $10. She wanted me to meet her in the next town up the road. It's a quick trip, but my time was worth more than that, not to mention the gas to get up there. I'm not meeting you somewhere for a $10 item. I don't need to sell it that bad. She would probably flake on me too once I got up there. Just like that woman who flaked on my parents after they spent an hour at Walmart waiting on someone. (She was from the same town as the people I refer to above.)

There's some things I put in the sale just to have more room. Well, guess what. I have to make room to bring them back home because I would rather keep them than just give the stuff away. So much for that!

Friday, June 16, 2017

When asking questions doesn’t work

Part 2 of an interview with Randy Newman,
Author of Questioning Evangelism

Sometimes the best answer is a question. It's the way Jesus often talked with people as He led them into discussions about the issues that mattered most. In Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did (Second Edition) (Kregel Publications), author Randy Newman provides practical insights to help Christians engage others in meaningful spiritual conversations. Asking questions, Newman suggests, doesn't tell unbelievers what to think but instead challenges how we think about people, their questions, and our message.

Q: The title of your book by itself may have people wondering if you have doubts about the need of telling others about Jesus, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Tell us a little bit about Questioning Evangelism.

It could seem I’m doubting whether we need to evangelize, but I’m not. I am questioning the way we have been doing evangelism for the past 50 years or so. Our world has changed so dramatically that we need new methods to proclaim the timeless message of the gospel. Our message hasn’t changed, but our methods must change. Just thinking about how Jesus spoke to different people in different ways makes me want to find ways to adapt my approaches to different people. Asking questions can be a good starting point for interacting with a wide range of individuals.

Q: Sometimes discussions about Christianity start as conversations that don’t seem directly tied to faith. What are some of the other topics you explore in Questioning Evangelism?

I think we can get to discussions of faith from a wide range of starting points. If people want to talk about events in the world that point to something supernatural, we can explore those with them. In fact, the word “explore” is a good one for how we might move from any topic to God, the afterlife, moral issues or what people value most. I think being a good listener can move many conversations from idle or shallow chit-chat to discussions of everlasting value. Things can happen in the course of a conversation that can’t happen just by conveying information or handing someone a booklet to read.

Q: What are the most common excuses Christians use for not sharing their faith?

Fear is probably the biggest obstacle, and I don’t think it’s just an excuse. It’s a real problem that can’t simply be overcome by pushing aside excuses. We need gospel transformation inside us, the ones doing the evangelizing, so we care more about God’s glory than about what people think of us. This is not as simple or automatic as we sometimes say it is. Another obstacle is feeling unprepared. We’re concerned people might ask us a question we haven’t researched enough to prepare an answer. We do need to do some preparation, but we also need to rely on God as He works alongside us as we proclaim the good news.

Q: There has always been opposition to proclaiming the Gospel, but in what ways is it more challenging for Christians to share their faith in today’s world?

In the past, I think, most of the objections were intellectual. People posed content-driven questions such as, “What evidence is there for the existence of God?” or “Doesn’t the Bible contradict itself?” Today the questions are more emotionally-driven, and a fair amount of animosity is behind the objections. People attack more than ask. The questioning accusations may include, “How can Christians be so intolerant in our diverse world?” or “Why are you the only ones who are still homophobic?”

Q: What are the three skills required for any evangelistic approach? What are some ways to help build those skills?

The first and most basic skill involves declaring the gospel, including the ability to articulate the message of salvation clearly and concisely. A tool such as Bill Bright’s “The Four Spiritual Laws” is helpful in presenting the message clearly while avoiding unnecessary distractions or confusing rabbit trails. Declaring the gospel also includes the sharing of one’s own story or testimony. Each Christian needs fluency in articulating how the Lord changed his or her life and the difference that change makes daily.

The second evangelistic skill is defending the gospel. Anticipating common questions, acquainting oneself with helpful discoveries from the past and planning how to deliver this information in a logical sequence has to be part of “always being ready to make a defense” (1 Peter 3:15 NASB).

The third skill — and this is where Questioning Evangelism fits in — is built upon the foundations of declaring and defending the gospel. That skill is called dialoguing the gospel. Often neglected, difficult to master, but absolutely essential, this skill of giving and taking — asking questions and bouncing ideas back and forth — might be just what our postmodern audience needs. We need all three skills if we’re to be Christ’s ambassadors in the 21st century.

Building any of these skills simply involves practice, which in turns builds confidence. I don’t want people to respond to my examples by saying, “I’ve got to memorize this so the next time someone asks me that question, I’ll say these words, use these phrases, ask these questions,” and so forth. Instead I hope readers will develop a different way of thinking about people, their questions and our message. Because of that difference, our evangelistic conversations will sound less content/persuasion-driven and more relationship/understanding-driven.

Q: What encouragement do you offer to someone who doesn’t believe he or she has the skills and knowledge to carry on an evangelistic conversation?

A concise two-part answer is: 1) None of us are adequate, and 2) we’re not in the process alone. A more elaborate answer would be we can improve with practice and trust God is at work in and through us in ways we can’t even imagine. When we begin an evangelistic conversation we should ask God for wisdom about what to say and how to say it, but we should also ask Him to work so that, even if we say really foolish, wrong or inaccurate things, He can work in spite of our less-than-stellar efforts.

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