Questions for Understanding Beliefs and Productively Engaging Disagreement

People have disagreements about many things. When a person is passionate about an issue, I venture to say it’s typically because their belief represents one or more values which are important to them. When people have disagreements over an issue, they’re often talking past one another without digging into what is really driving the other person’s beliefs. I think if we could discuss the values behind our beliefs, we would have much more productive discussions. We might actually be able to come up with ideas that uphold both party’s values. But we won’t get there if we’re only fighting about our end beliefs. Here are some questions intended to help dig in and understand the values behind our beliefs and how that might aid our Continue reading

Book Review: Invitation to Tears

Invitation to Tears” is a new book coauthored by Jonalyn Fincher and Aubrie Hills. If I were to describe “Invitation to Tears” in a word, it would be “permission”—permission to grieve. The authors are sensitive to the various ways people grieve. They also recognize that the death of a loved one is not the only loss over which we may grieve. I appreciated this since the greatest losses I’ve experienced have been of this latter type.

My impression is that the book is written for the person who is grieving. It is divided into short, easy to read chapters. In each, Jonalyn and Aubrie attempt to express some of the emotions and experiences in the grief process, giving a few thoughtful tips along the way. If grieving, I certainly think Continue reading

Secret Church Review and Problems of Focusing on Sin

Secret Church is an annual event put on by David Platt and his church in Alabama. The event is promoted widely and simulcast to groups meeting across the U.S. and world. Some friends of mine had participated before and organized a viewing locally this year. So I joined them. It was scheduled for a single evening, from 6 to midnight, which because of the time zone difference, meant 7 pm to 1 am for us.

I have been aware of Platt and his book “Radical” since it received a fair amount of attention after its publishing. However I had not read the book nor was I directly familiar with Platt before attending this event.

I must say, I was significantly disappointed in Secret Church. There were a few songs and a bit of time for focused Continue reading

Truth Is Not a Process, Belief Is

Update: I submitted this blog to the “Bridging the Divides” syncroblog. I feel the following concept is important for having respectful dialog with those with whom we disagree.

We all have beliefs about various things. This is fine. However, some people expect everyone to agree with them. Or in other words, they expect everyone should share their beliefs. The thought process is like this: “(I believe) this is true, so everyone else must acknowledge it is true also.” This is a problem.

I think people confuse truth and belief. The truth is true unconditionally, no matter what. But our beliefs are in flux. Truth doesn’t need our belief nor anyone else’s in order to be true. Our belief however is a process, a journey. We aren’t born Continue reading

Course Review: Financial Peace University / Book Review: Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money

Dave Ramsey has become a well known name, mostly due to his syndicated radio show I believe. Nevertheless, I have been unfamiliar with him until the past several months. As you can see from the picture, quite a lot of items are included in the package for Financial Peace University (FPU). One of these is the book, “Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money”. FPU is a nine week course consisting of an hour or so long video and a subsequent small group discussion of similar length. The FPU kit also includes a workbook with a chapter to accompany each session and home work to do each week. Those enrolled in the course also have access to the FPU website which contains related resources (and which is well design I must add).

One of the Continue reading

Book Review: Falling in Love For All the Right Reasons

Falling in Love for All the Right Reasons” is a book by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony. The book describes all of the dimensions which eHarmony has come up with which make for good, long-lasting relationships. I personally think this book is an excellent reference which I’d recommend to almost anyone who is dating or would like to be. This book could be your brain when your judgement is foggy due to your feelings of attraction. It contains a bunch of solid, well researched advice. It’s logic minus the feelings which can help with the perspective you may wish you had when in love. However, if you’re a person who just wants to go with whatever you feel at the moment and don’t really want to think about it, then you aren’t likely Continue reading

Book Review: 5 Paths to the Love of Your Life

The book “5 Paths to the Love of Your Life”, while accurately titled, is also potentially misleading. This isn’t a “how to” guide on finding a romantic partner. Rather it covers a range of philosophies on moving from singleness to marriage for Christians—what is descriptively called by one author, “premarital relationships”. I think the premise of the book is great: have five intelligent authors representing a range of views each write a chapter describing their thoughts on this topic. The book is eight to nine years old at this point; it was written in the wake of the dating controversy sparked by Joshua Harris’ book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” in the late nineties.

The views contained in this book range from betrothal on one end to Continue reading

Book Review: Hearing God (Peter Lord)

Allow me to get straight to the point—I really liked “Hearing God” by Peter Lord. I was not familiar with Lord before reading this book. However, of the several books I’ve read on the topic of listening to God, this is definitely my favorite so far. Lord gives the most information and practical advice out of all these books. I am keeping this book around as a reference, and I expect I’ll probably re-read it in the future. I’m not sure what else to say about it, so this may be my shortest review ever. Nevertheless, I definitely recommend this book.

I’m With Don – Thoughts on Worship Services Part 5

I spent some time talking about how worship services don’t equal church and about worship/praise music in previous posts (see part 4). I will now take a brief look at sermons/preaching and wrap this series up.


There tend to be a couple of different types of sermons. The primary types I’ve observed I’d categorize into either motivational speech or college lecture. The former tends to be a teaching on a general biblical principal with a primary message of what you should or shouldn’t be doing (which could include evangelical messages). The latter may well be an exposition of a particular bible passage. These can be quite informative but also tend to have a lesser amount of practical value (though this isn’t always the case).

In Continue reading