More by less.

Every time we add something new to our schedule, we must take something out. Alongside your ‘to do’ list think about keeping a ‘don’t do’ list as well.

“Many times, developing the ability to spend time in the Bible and to hear what it’s saying is less about our aptitude for scripture and more about all the noise that exists around us. We all know we could use more Bible, but we often forget we could use less of everything else.”
—Jared Wilson, Abide


Punching Monday in the face. (Why your pastor might be depressed today.)

Mondays are the worst, right? They just punch you in the face.

Unless you punch Monday in the face first.

(Not advocating violence per se, except that winning your heart decisively — and winning their hearts — is the key to finding joy, even on a Monday.)

Fight the good fight Winning the battle on Monday starts with surveying the land: What. Just. Happened. (?)

As a preaching pastor, I can wake up with a “case of the Mondays.” You ever feel that way? Lethargic, not wanting to move. Tough to get motivated. In a malaise, mentally and emotionally. 1

This experience is not confined to pastors, and it’s not just a spiritual thing. Rather, the root of this Monday feeling comes from what Archibald Hart calls “Post-adrenaline depression.” He describes it this way:

“…what I was experiencing was a profound shutdown of my adrenal system, following a period of high stress or demand. It was as if my adrenal system were saying, ‘That’s enough abuse for now; let’s give it a break,’ and shut down so that I had no choice in the matter.”

While this might seem like a mini-crisis, this slow-down provides a helpful clue to something we all need: active rest. Have you noticed that when you lay in bed all day you  feel achy later, while going for a brief walk actually energizes your body? Your body needs rest, but active rest is better.

The impetus (and partial title) for this post came from Mike Leake, who points out:

“This really isn’t unique to pastors. Even if you aren’t a pastor I’m guessing that you have had times of a great spiritual high, only to find yourself the next day feeling like a total schmuck.”

I’d say if you’re never honest about when you feel like a “schmuck,” then you have other problems.

Yet we need not be surprised or sidelined about needing to work at a slower pace in our jobs. While we seem to naturally swerve between over-confidence and despair, let us find a new rhythm to combat the inevitable fatigue and mental battles. Continue reading

  1. Surprise: not all pastors preach regularly, and so until the last three years hit me I didn’t realize the weight of the day after Sunday. Until this new season with Renew Church I was just as much a pastor/shepherd, but I did not preach regularly so this is all new-ish to me.

Listening to life advice: how should we live?

The currency of our culture is life advice.

Everywhere we look, someone is offering a better way to life. A better you.

This week we’ve asked all the RENEWers to take note of all the life advice they hear. Lean in on conversations, jot down what others share on social media, even listen to your parents! Everywhere and all the time people around us are answering the question, “How should we live?”


This vital question comes from the Gospel Grid 1, a way of orienting our hearts and minds around God’s Word and His world.

In four questions the “grid” covers the basics of reality and purpose:

  1. Who is God?
  2. What has He done?
  3. Who are we?
  4. How do we live?

Have you noticed that we tend to reverse the order?

As broken people we take that last question and make it primary: How should we live? Then drawing from our successes or failures at living well, we carve out an identity for ourselves, figuring out who we are. This leads us to view what God has done in the world through the lens of self: what has God done for me?

On the basis of how we live, and who we think we are, leading to how we see God’s activity in our lives, we then arrive at a view of God. Either He’s been good and gracious, or He’s been less than stellar, not meeting our expectations. When we look at our circumstances … God’s got some explaining to do!

Society places self at the top of the pyramid, beginning with me, myself & I in all our questions. We take the place of God. We turn the Gospel Grid upside-down.

I’m convinced this is why so much life advice is shared — this is how I live, and you should too! (Cue the infomercial smile: “It worked for me, and it can work for you!”) In the midst the message of the Gospel seems like another pitch to adopt a new lifestyle, maybe a less awesome one than you’re working on right now. Add a little Jesus to your life; He’ll make it all better.

What life advice have you heard this week?

Was it helpful? How will that solid advice eventually let you down? Lets come back to the first question — forgetting ourselves and our circumstances for a moment — who is God?

  1. Thank you to the fellow students at Soma School Portland 2013 and the leaders of Bread & Wine for helping me re-discover the Gospel Grid, and re-apply it to my heart, life, and church family.

Trouble: the rush and pressure of modern life.

“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence… activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence… It kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

—Thomas Merton, via Chad Lewis of the Sojourn Network, who adds:

“If you are not doing the hard work of sitting at Jesus’ feet daily, you are in trouble.”

So true.