Welcome to my blog. I spend half my life in coffee shops having honest conversations about how following Jesus works in real life. So, let’s learn together, grab a cup and – join the conversation.

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Quick Bio
I’m a businessman, elder in one of the more conservative mega churches in Grand Rapids, Michigan and for over 25 years a full time spiritual mentor of men. I love introducing people to Jesus and truth from God’s perspective. I’m also an NPR listener and student of our culture because I want to understand how the world and a younger generation think, so I’m prepared to engage in conversations which are true to the Bible, intellectually honest and gracious.

Following Jesus is the only hope I have of living this life with purpose, energy and expectation. I hope to end my days on earth still meeting young men at Starbucks who have no interest in God, being the patriarch of my family, cheering them on to godliness, making sad people smile and the lonely – laugh, giving the poor hope, pointing wayward men back to their families, teaching the whole counsel of God and keeping myself unstained – God’s reputation and mine intact.

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Welcome to my blog.
I spend half my life in coffee shops having honest conversations about how following Jesus works in real life. So, let’s learn together, grab a cup and join the conversation.

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What Non-Christians Want Christians to Understand
Posted by Clare
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I ran across this sobering blog by John Shore, thoughtful Christians who are serious about reaching their non-Christian friends ought to read. Next week, I’ll share some ideas I’ve used to introduce people to Jesus, without offending them.

As a way of researching my book I’m OK – You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop, I posted a notice on Craigslist sites all over the country asking non-Christians to send me any short, personal statement they would like Christians to read.

“Specifically,” I wrote, “I’d like to hear how you feel about being on the receiving end of the efforts of Christian evangelicals to convert you. I want to be very clear that this is not a Christian-bashing book; it’s coming from a place that only means well for everyone. Thanks.”

Within three days I had in my inbox over 300 emails from non-Christians across the country. Reading them was one of the more depressing experiences of my life. I had expected their cumulative sentiment to be one of mostly anger. But if you boiled down to a single feeling what was most often expressed in the nonbelievers’ statements, it would be Why do Christians hate us so much?

Below is a pretty random sample of the statements non-Christians sent me (each of which I used in the book). If you’re a Christian, they make for a mighty saddening read. Or they certainly should, anyway.
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Playing “King of the Mountain” with God
Posted by Clare

No true Christian would ever consciously dare try to unseat God or to replace him as king of their life. However, as a practical matter, many of us may be slowly and subtly doing just that if;

  • You post on social media more than a couple times a day (except for your job).
  • You find yourself checking often for “Likes” or comments from others.
  • You are constantly looking for pictures to post to get “Likes.”
  • You check your phone during worship.
  • You check your phone before you pray or read scripture in the morning.
  • If you own and use a “selfie stick” regularly.

“You shall have no other Gods before me.” Deuteronomy 5:7
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The Confession of a Grace Abuser
Posted by Clare
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Our daughter, Megan, has a blog entitled: This is me Being Real.  Well, this is me being real.

Here’s what goes on in my head and heart whenever I’m tempted to sin; I’m not talking about the automatic, unkind word that springs from my lips, or a lustful thought that came out of nowhere but lingers too long, sin.  I’m talking about me contemplating a sin, even for a few minutes that I know full well is wrong (a felony in my hierarchy of sins).  Why is it a spiritually mature man, would ever choose to sin?

Because I know there’s always GRACE.  And, so do you.

And there have been times I’ve used my “grace card” like it was some kind of unlimited hall pass that allows me to go anywhere or do anything without fear of the consequences.

If you and I are at all serious about personal holiness, we’ll need to look under the hood of our hearts and try to figure out why we do what we do and then have the wisdom and courage to do something about it.  I think two of the most spiritually crippling words for followers of Jesus is good enough.

So, let’s talk about grace abuse and why we do it.

In The 10 Second Rule I warn about the “voices” we hear from outside of ourselves, like Satan and from the world, constantly tempting us to ignore God’s will and enticing us to live for our own personal pleasure.

But, the “other voice” I hear most often isn’t Satan’s or the world’s. It’s my own​—​it’s me resisting Jesus’ full claim on my life as Lord. I’ve told him thousands of times he’s my Lord. I meant it, and I still mean it! But there’s an independent, sinful part of me that wants to reserve a part of my life for me. I want to be able to call at least part of my life mine.

The Apostle Paul said it well:

The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. (Romans 7:21-23, MSG)

So, let’s give it a name​—​call it partial surrender. And I’ve noticed that others who believe themselves to be Christians apparently have bought into the partial surrender idea, too​—​they’re like hanging on to their “mines” also. And there have been times I’ve begun believing the lie I so desperately wanted to believe​—​that because of grace, Jesus is fine with partial surrender.

Is he?

Is grace​—​the amazing truth that God through Christ Jesus has forgiven all our sins​—​really a contributing factor to my spiritual mediocrity?

Only when I abuse it.

Grace abuse is holding God to his word, while using it as an excuse to break ours.

Most of us wouldn’t think of ourselves as actually doing that​—​but isn’t that what we’re really doing?  I’ve often wondered if Jesus ever just slowly rubs his thumbs over the scars on his hands in disbelief that we would treat so casually his great love and terrible sacrifice. Why is it that our gratitude seems to have a half-life, once Easter has passed?

Christ’s sacrifice was meant to pay the price for that which I cannot do for myself—perfection and absolute surrender. Jesus expects all of us who claim his name to full-heartedly give our all to loving God, doing his will, and serving his kingdom on earth. When that’s not enough—and it isn’t, of course—yes, in the end he remains faithful, even if we aren’t.

That’s the real purpose of grace—to do what I can’t. It should never be my excuse for what I won’t.

So the primary reason some of us aren’t making more progress living more godly lives is that we’ve made peace with our conscience. We’ve come to what we think is a reasonable balance between sin and surrender​—​a compromise we can live with, and one we think God is okay with too. We tell ourselves that Jesus died not just for our past sins but for our present and future ones as well. We’ve been forgiven! And that’s a powerful incentive to settle for partial surrender. For good enough. Anything more just feels unnecessary, too difficult, or costly.

So most of us obey that first voice, the good voice​—​what I believe is the Holy Spirit’s voice​—​often enough to assuage our guilt and enable us to feel reasonably good about ourselves. And maybe you’re doing about as well as most Christians you know. But deep down, you know that your Savior and Lord deserves so much more and wants so much more for you!

He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)

So, what do we do about this condition?
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24)

But what does “take up his cross daily” actually mean?  Hold on because what I’m about to tell you is going to sound counter to what I said just a few paragraphs back.

I gave up on absolute surrender years ago!

I gave it up because I realized it was an impossible goal. There was no way I could ever hope to surrender my will to God’s absolutely, every day, for the rest of my life. God knows it. And every other Christian on earth does too, whether they admit it or not. None of us wants to chase a dream or goal we know can’t be attained.

So while absolute surrender is impossible, doing the next thing I’m reasonably certain Jesus wants me to do isn’t! I can do that! And so can you. So we can tear up that negotiated settlement with our consciences. Our excuses are over.

Therein lies the power of the Rule to transform our lives.

Talk about counterintuitive! Remember when Jesus said in Matthew 6 not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself? When you and I give up and simply follow Jesus, daily and hourly and in the next ten seconds, doing what he asks us to do, (including resisting sin) we actually move closer to that previously elusive ideal of absolute surrender than we ever dreamed possible! That’s exactly what dying (surrendering) daily means.

─ Quoted from The 10 Second Rule, chapter two

One Final Thought
A number of years ago, I began visualizing a grace card.  Mine is the size of a debit card.  In fact, I think of it as a spiritual debt card.  It has an unlimited credit balance, because Jesus made a lifetime deposit for more grace than I deserve, or I’ll ever need.

When I’m tempted to sin, I’ll often imagine that card in my hand, paid in full by the blood of Jesus himself.  And if I’m lucid enough to listen to the Holy Spirit at that moment, I visualize myself quickly putting that card back in my wallet, unwilling to spend one cent of the blood price.  Usually the temptation passes quickly and then there’s that sweet satisfaction, as I imagine Jesus and me walking out of the temptation shop with my guilt bag empty.

My question to you is:  If you are a grace abuser, what’s your plan to stop?

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The “Other” 10 Second Rule
Posted by Clare
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The following is a blog by Rob Parsons, a British pastor/teacher. I found his ideas both biblical and practical.

Over the years, I’ve talked with many men and women who have been involved in affairs. One of the most salutary things is to realize that with many of them, they didn’t intend to be unfaithful to their partners. They sometimes blurt out, “It just happened.” They will normally go on to talk about some innocent event in which they were involved (often a genuine desire to help the other person in some way), and then go on to say, “It suddenly got out of hand.”

When is the battle won or lost in the affair? Is it decided at the bedroom door? No. The battle is so often decided when somebody smiles at you across a room and you have ten seconds to decide whether you will walk those twenty feet or keep talking to the boring colleague next to you. There is, in so many affairs, a line that has to be crossed. The tragedy is that so often it is drawn very near the beginning of the relationship, but once it is crossed it is hard to go back.

I remember speaking with a man who was in the middle of an affair. He’d lost just about everything. He said: “Rob, she offered me a lift. The second I got in that car, it was as if it was all decided.”
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