Coloring Craze

coloringI’m sure by now most of you are aware of the adult coloring book craze that is sweeping the nation. I for one cannot make sense of its appeal. Maybe because I had tough art teachers in the past who reprimanded me for not coloring “in the lines,” and I am afraid of not “doing it right.”

But the theory behind it is that coloring is a creative endeavor and clears our minds of troubling thoughts and sharpens our brains’ abilities in other tasks.

The craze has made inroads into Christian publishing recently with adult coloring books being launched that include religious imagery and Bible verses. The books are presented as a kind of tool to use as a devotional or meditative spiritual outlet. And many are finding that to be so for themselves in their personal faith-walk.

Going a step further, there is a larger trend developing in the publication of Bibles that includes more white space in the margins to allow for drawing, doodling, coloring and note-taking on the Scripture passages on the pages. I do like this idea, because it makes the activity of Bible-reading something that is more personal, more intimate, more tangible, more practical, and less academic and structured and orderly. Continue reading →


robot handI went to a seminar recently on the topic of transhumanism, and while some of it was beyond me, I was fascinated by the basic concept of it and what it means for us as Christians.

Simply put, transhumanism is the intentional and intellectual movement that aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical and psychological capacities.

In many ways transhumanism is already happening, especially in the medical field with hearing aids, pace makers, prosthetic arms, etc. And it is happening in computer technology with virtual reality games and platforms.

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calendarI am a planner, I will admit. I like to schedule my day and my week and know when I will be where. This is a natural tendency among humans, we can all acknowledge, I think.

But during my recent illness, all my plans went out the window and I realized that I am not as in control of my time and my life as I like to think I am.

When I was talking about this with a friend of mine, she reminded me of this verse from Scripture:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

So I have taken up the practice of prefacing my plans with the disclaimer, “If the Lord wills … ” And I do not find that confining or pessimistic in any way. I am just relaying to others that my plans are not up to me ultimately; they are up to God.

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Comfort Dogs


Do you see a pattern here?

I confess that I am not a dog person at all. But when I was sick recently, almost every get-well card I received had a dog on it, and my assistant kindly sent me a porcelain dog figurine. So I got to wondering if God was trying to tell me something.

I firmly believe that he was not telling me to get a dog, but I am fully convinced that he was sending me a message of comfort.

Oddly enough, as you may already be aware, there is a well-established program called K-9 Comfort Dogs which trains and sends dogs to bring comfort to those who are going through a crisis of some kind. You can check out their wonderful work at this website:

But as good as comfort from a dog is, comfort from God our Father is even greater:

In Isaiah 40:1 we read, “Comfort, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”

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These dishes are clean!

I confess that I hate doing dishes. When I bought my house, I did not think too much about the fact that it did not have a dishwasher. But I did not realize the amount of time I would be standing by the sink washing plates and cups and silverware again and again. 

Full disclosure, as some friends who have been at my house can attest, I do not always keep up with it and the dishes stack up from time to time in a kind of Dr. Suessian tippy tower until I bite the bullet and get to washing.

This endless cycle of dishwashing brought to mind what the Bible has to say about dishwashing and the meaning behind it. Believe or not, the Bible has a lot to say about it.

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were very good at doing dishes, apparently:

There are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches. Mark 7:4

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Cultural Liturgies


Walking to work is one of our cultural liturgies.

In his book, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation, Christian philosopher James K. A. Smith talks about what he calls “cultural liturgies,” those daily habits we engage in as a Christian society that reveal what our beliefs are.

Smith in his thesis reframes the word liturgy to mean “Love-shaped habits—whether sacred or secular—that shape and constitute our identities” (Desiring the Kingdom. p. 25).

He goes on to say, “Malls, stadiums, and universities are actually liturgical structures that influence and shape our thoughts and affections. Humans—as Augustine noted—are “desiring agents,” full of longings and passions; in brief, we are what we love” (Desiring the Kingdom, Baker Academic, 2009).

The quote from St. Augustine that Smith is referring to here is is the well-known prayer: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

The deepest desire of our heart is to rest in our God.

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Number Our Days

calendarOne of our Creative Communications contributing writers, Michelle Van Loon, recently had her newest book, Moments and Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith, excerpted in the September 2016 issue of Christianity Today. Bravo, Michelle! Way to go!

Her words about how we order and structure our time resonate well during these weeks when a a new academic year begins.

Van Loon reveals in her book that in early pagan cultures time was seen as a wheel that kept going around and around. It was only the ancient Jews who began looking at time as a journey with a purpose.

We need to keep that in mind ourselves as we “get back on the hamster wheel” of routine again after the summer months.

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missing outI thought I was the only one who had this feeling. But now I see that the feeling even has an acronym that is currently in the vernacular and used in magazines and on TV quite often now.

The feeling is called the fear of missing out (or FOMO, for short). It is the sensation that somewhere someone is having more fun, doing more things, having a better time than we are and we are not there to experience it with them.

It sounds silly when you say it out loud, but I truly think FOMO is at least one of the driving forces behind our over-scheduled, over-busy lifestyles these days. We want to make sure that we are fitting all that we can into a day and experiencing everything that our family and friends are experiencing.

The problem with FOMO it that is causes us to became super focused on what can bring us the most pleasure for ourselves, what can make us seem better or more involved than others and what can make us appear cool and hip and “with it” in the eyes of society.

Unfortunately, I think that FOMO has creeped into the life of the church as well. We are not as committed to activities and programs we once were in the church because we are subconsciously waiting for “something better to come along.” In extreme cases, we see the effects of FOMO playing out in lower attendance in worship and fewer activities at church.

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De-Cling Sin

shampoo bottleDo you have the problem of trying to get the last vestiges of soap or shampoo that clings to the inside of a bottle so that you can recycle it? Well, you may be in luck! Researchers at Ohio State University have developed “a microscopically thin coating, that applied to the inside of bottles, lets soapy products slide right off” (“Getting the Last Drop,” World Magazine, August 6, 2016).

When I read this article, the following verse came to mind:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. —Hebrews 12:1

We have a problem with sin clinging to the inside of ourselves and, like the soap and shampoo bottles, we need something that can “de-cling” the sin from our lives and let the last vestiges of it slide from us.

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Beware the Camel!

camelsWorking together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain, —1 Corinthians 6:1

I just recently heard the saying, “A camel is  just a horse designed by a committee.” It made me laugh because we have all been there. When you are on a committee, often what started out as a simple idea gets muddled in the abundance of desires and the incorporation of conflicting ideas.

It makes me think about what often happens at church meetings, unfortunately. The ultimate goal sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of details and multiple opinions. Often things don’t get done in the process or good concepts are abandoned, sadly.

I know that so many times the issues are so complex that they cannot be easily solved, but one caveat that came to mind as I contemplated this “camel” conundrum is that when it comes to working together as a team within a church body, we need to do all we can to keep it simple.

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