Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Monday Challenge 4.10.17 – When You’re Wronged, Don’t Parent Snowflakes, Easter Week

Good Monday morning. At our house today marks my wife Julie’s birthday. Woohoo!

Take some time to think through what you’ll read here today. Some challenging stuff for sure.

When You’re Wronged

This article will challenge anyone suffering from an injustice beyond their control.

Question: How does God’s mercy speak to injustice?

Don’t Parent Snowflakes

This should make us think about our definitions of bullying and challenge us to think about the emotional health and stability of our kids.

Question: How might our definitions of bullying affect the emotional health of kids?

Become Less

What a title: “The Grace of Becoming Less”.

Question: How do you evaluate “contentment”?

Easter Week in Real Time

I found this early this morning.  Hopefully it will help you understand the events of Holy Week.

Question: Where does knowledge such as this meet practice in daily life?

Think and Act 3.29.17 – A Difficult But Hopeful Transition

This past Sunday March 26, our church marked the changing of a season as Josh Miller, Youth Director of almost seven years spent his last Sunday with us. If you would like to listen to the message God gave me for that day, you can listen to it here: Three Encouragements In Transition.

I’m hoping anyone reading this post will find encouragement, help, and perspective. A few summary thoughts:

1. Yes, this situation is difficult.

I don’t have it in me to smile and portray some fake reality. That benefits no one. When God leads someone  away who has developed programming, supported many teens and families, improved your office atmosphere, and befriended you and many in your church and community, it stings.

When someone experiences wide levels of love, support, and friendship, plain facts say they will leave a hole in people’s lives. Yes, of course!

2. No, this situation is not unbearable. God leads the way.

Refer to point #1. “When God leads…” It sounds simple to say “If God authors the change, He will author the path forward.” Well, simple or not, that statement lines up with the truth.

The day Josh told me of their final decision to make the move, I felt a huge sense of loss. But I remember going to my office to do nothing but seek and worship God for about an hour. I am convinced that sweet time spent with God in those difficult moments has provided the foundation of trust He’s (slowly) brought about.

Since Sunday, I’ve gotten a lot of work done in the office the past couple days. Lord willing, a worship service will happen Sunday. I’m beginning to wonder how God will move in our staffing situation. I’m sure Josh looks forward to his new position at Riverwood. I know my friends at Riverwood will anxiously and lovingly receive him.

I don’t claim to know God’s purposes, but I trust His leading more than I trust my ability to comprehend. I am in awe of God, not just when it feels good. Yes, even when it feels bad.

In short, God allows us to see that life goes in in the midst of difficult seasons!

 

3. Personally…

  • I would ask you to pray for our church and all from Josh’s pool of family, friends, and co-workers who will truly miss his presence at our church.
  • Our church’s response has encouraged me greatly, as many have openly committed to praying for God’s leading in both Josh and Kristi’s lives and the future life of our church.
  • These past couple years have forced me to lean into my own calling. God has moved my closest friends/co-workers yet I have no sense He desires to move me. I will press on!

4. So, challenge yourself. How do you handle transition and season changes?

God leads through seasons of life. Do we have an understanding of our world where we expect changes to come? Let’s say God allows me to stay in full time ministry into my 60’s. These seven years working with Josh would represent less than 20% of my total ministry career and much less over my statistically projected lifespan (which currently stands around 80). I hope to remember it fondly and talk with Josh at that point about all God taught us during this season.

Simply put, worshiping God prevents the past from developing into an idol that stifles both present effectiveness and future vision. With an appropriate mixture of sting and optimism, it’s time to acknowledge the end of a very sweet season with a sweet friend and his family…

And to look forward by God’s grace to the season that lies ahead!

Think. When you don’t understand what God’s plans, do you ask Him first or try to figure it all out on your own?

Act. Treasure the seasons of your lives and how God has lead you through them!

Monday Challenge 2.27.17 – Digital Detox, Teens and Love, Election Stress

Good Monday morning!

No? Good Monday challenge. For sure. Enjoy!

Digital Detox

Check out this jam packed article – lots of resources regarding digital detox. Don’t know what that means? Find out and evaluate the issue as it relates to you!

Question: When and why should you take a break from digital stuff?

Teens and Love

How do teens learn about love? Great question. This article will make you think.

Question: How can you challenge younger people in your life to think about love?

Courage

What a great challenge to us to seek courage in finding Jesus. Fear = not an option!

Question: What fears bog you down? Why do you think that is?

Election Stress

David Murray with a second article this week. I know, a little biased, but such good stuff. Check out this one one stresses from economics to the election.

Question: What stresses you the most? Which of the verses in this article speaks most to your stress?

2016 In Review: Top Articles I Wrote

I haven’t written as many articles as I have in the past. Nonetheless, let me summarize this year’s top articles:

7. The Brutal, Beautiful 2015

6. Project Shine 2016 – Awash In Provision

5. About the Akron Public Schools Decisions

4. Loves, Likes and Dislikes of Winter Jam

3. How To Ruin A Community

2. After Ten Years, Five Reflections on Losing Our Father

1. Gorillas, Parenting, Social Media, and Judgment (Coincidentally this, somehow, is the most read article in the history of my blog.)

 

After Ten Years, Five Reflections on Losing Our Father

 

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Today (12.15.16) marks ten years since the loss of my father Roger Burkholder. Some reading this will have memories of my dad, others will not. I hope these five reflections will help you remember or at least understand my dad’s powerful legacy as well as process grief in general.

Five Reflections After Ten Years:

1. I wonder…

I wonder what my dad would have thought about our family developments over the past ten years. My brother and his family moved to Australia for four years. I got the chance to travel to foreign countries four different times for missions. My mom moved out of a one acre plot and into a condo. We adopted a daughter. It’s hard not to think back on those events and not retroactively “photoshop” my dad into them.

2. I know…

I know many men in my life who have taken on the needed role of my dad from time to time. Celebrations, encouragement, rebuke, advice have all come from men in our church, community, or family. I won’t list them here, but I praise God for the wise, steady counsel and presence of men who have either intentionally or unintentionally stepped into my life. You have benefitted me more than you know.

3. Pursuit and provision of education

My dad stepped out of family life in Northeast Ohio and into college life – across the state at a tiny school called Bluffton. There he met my mom which of course paved the way for my existence and our family. My dad’s life-changing decision to go to college must have provided the groundwork for his desire to make educational opportunities available to my brother and me. I know my life would have gone down an entirely different path without my dad’s foundation of education. I am grateful to this day.

4. Normal never returns.

I want to share a brief word about helping people who grieve. Generally in loss and especially in situations of sudden loss such as my dad, normal never returns. Waiting for people to “get over” their season of grief or “move on” places shallow expectations upon wounded souls. Birthdays, holidays, and special occasions arouse the sting of loss and force those in grief to confront and process yet another milestone.

Over the past ten years, very few people have directly asked: “How are you doing with the loss of your father?” Please do not let fear prevent you from asking this type of question to people you know enduring grief. Just giving someone a chance to talk and showing you can provide a safe place will mean a lot to someone who otherwise feels isolated attempting to navigate their grief.

5. Fixed and certain hope 

Grieving with the hope of Jesus Christ has saved me from trying to soothe my own pain. A couple relevant Bible verses will help you understand what I mean here:

I Thessalonians 4:13: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”

I Corinthians 15:54-55: “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

These verses show the limited influence death has on our lives. When we turn from sin and believe in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal life, we inherit the hope (fixed, certain hope) we will live forever with Jesus. This is the clear teaching of the New Testament. God raised Jesus from the dead to prove His power over death and repeatedly calls us to repent and come into relationship with Him.

Therefore, as a believer in Jesus Christ I live with and embrace a fixed, certain hope God will set me free from grief in eternity. Why would I not trust God’s power over death when His own Son rose from the dead to give me the hope I have?

I hope this truth will guide you as you process any specific grief in your life. The hope of Jesus can fill you as well. Please use the contact info on this page or contact me personally if you have any questions about a relationship with God.