Short-Term Family Resolutions

Family Christmas.jpg

I'm really bad at keeping New Year's resolutions. I know a lot of folks are. Making resolutions remains a big part of our culture. So does breaking them. 

In the last year or two my family has started to shift toward short-term resolutions, disciplines, and habit-building. It puts our goals within reach. We still have longer term goals, but by creating bite-sized "wins" we help ourselves take manageable strides toward them. We still make mistakes, as I explain below, but because the resolutions are short-term we get to adjust in the short-term.

This is what we have been doing.

We locate a date 3-6 weeks off. It might be the day a vacation starts, a holiday, the day school is over, etc. There's always something 3-6 weeks out we can choose as an end date. Then we think about and talk about what we want to do and write it down. Different types of fasting are involved as well as disciplines. 

Here are main areas of focus as we kicked off 2014. We called it a "January Fast" (though it wasn't only fasting).

  • BIBLE READING - The kids and Molly completed a 24 day reading plan through Luke. The kids also completed a 5 day reading plan on student leadership. I read the New Testament in full in January. We picked and followed our plans through YouVersion. The family mostly read in their personal Bibles and I read YouVersion on my iPad. I've never done that and liked it a lot more than I expected. 
  • FOOD - We limited, beyond regular family limitations, intake of sugary drinks/soda. The most difficult food-related fast was not going out to eat in January. We had grown lazy with that and needed a change.
  • GAMES - We fasted from some of our favorite video games, mostly on the PS3. I haven't played Black Ops II for a month. That was difficult. My two youngest boys and typically play for 20 minutes almost every day.
  • COMPUTERS - We put tighter limits on the use of computers and electronics by the kids for January. We had two "no electronics" days a week in January.

There were other pieces of the "January Fast" that we planned and only completed in part. Some reading I didn't finish, for example. I planned too much. We did some Bible memory, but not all we wanted. Our family worship didn't quite go as planned. And we were going to do a more traditional fast from food during the month but somehow it didn't happen (my youngest pointed that out). But with short-term family resolutions we are always only a few weeks away from hitting refresh, changing goals, fasting from something new, or whatever else we'd like to work on. 

In the past we've done things like no-shopping fasts where we have to make meals out of whatever is in the freezer and pantry so that we don't shop for more food for a few weeks. It's amazing how much great food keeps getting passed over and over.

To break our "January Fast" we are going out to eat tonight. It's probably going to be something simple, a burger and a Coke. But we don't know for sure where we are going because every time we try to discuss it with the kids they keep talking about what God's been teaching them though the fast! It's been a very cool, and in many ways difficult, January. But it's been good. I'm sure tonight we'll be talking about what "fast" we'll try before spring break!

A Prayer Reflecting On Romans 7

Ortlund 2

O Lord, your gospel is true to life. It reads me as much as I read it. How lofty, how noble are my intentions! But how ugly, how squalid, how embarrassing are my actions! I see your law for the holy thing it is. And I see myself, in my imagination, running off on my white charger to do battle against sin. But so often, I am defeated and shamed and seen to be the fool I am. In this ongoing encounter between your law and my sinfulness, I am learning one simple truth: I really am a sinner, and I really hate it, and I really want you to be my Savior. Draw near to me now, dear Lord. Nurture within me an undying, persistent, rugged love for you that will fight on through the warfare of this life, never giving up and never giving in, but striving on for the holiness you have promised to perfect in me in heaven. Keep your bright promises before me, dear Lord, especially when I fall defeated in sin. In the holy name of Christ. Amen.

Ray Ortlund, Jr. in A Passion for God, pgs 105-106.

Pope: Atheists Are Saved

Pope 184

Pope Francis said,

The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, what about the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us first class children of God! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, with everyone doing his own part; if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of meeting: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good! We shall meet there.

Here's an attempt by Catholics to defend his remarks. Do you agree? I'd love to hear from my Catholic friends on this. 

The Best Wallet I've Owned | Cinch


I've been using the Cinch wallet for a few months now, and it's easily the best wallet I've owned.

There are three different options, two wood and one steel. I have the darker wood wallet. I figured I'd like the steel backbone better as it's thinner, but I think I'd rather choose a wood one because I can keep it in the same front pocket with my phone and don't have to worry about the wood scratching the screen. Love that aspect.

I keep credit cards, licence, insurance card, money, etc in my Cinch and I almost forget it's in my pocket. I highly recommend it. From the website...

Are you looking to trade in that overly stuffed and morbidly obese pain in the back wallet for an easy everyday carry? For all you minimalist lovers who believe less is more, we have the remedy! Birth out of a need (good-bye money clips, broccoli rubber bands and bulky wallets) we are proud to introduce you to CINCH; an American crafted, industrial style, minimalist wallet that simplifies your life and your pockets. Let the battle against the bulge begin! 

$5 Albums | May 2013

Sale copyHere are the $5 albums I recommend for May. 

Dane Ortlund | Grace Anew


It's time to enjoy grace anew -- not the decaffeinated grace that pats us on the hand, ignores our deepest rebellions and doesn't change us, but the high-octane grace that takes our conscience by the scruff of the neck and breathes new life into us with a pardon so scandalous that we cannot help but be changed. It's time to blow aside the hazy cloud of condemnation that hands over us throughout the day with the strong wind of gospel grace. You 'are not under law but under grace' (Rom 6:14). Jesus is real; grace is defiant; life is short; risk is good. For many of us the time has come to abandon once and for all our play-it-safe, toe-dabbling Christianity and dive in. It's time, as Capon put it, to get drunk on grace -- 200-proof defiant grace.

Dane Ortlund in Defiant Grace, pages 13-14

George Whitefield Resources

George whitefield post header Resources 2Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that George Whitefield was "the most neglected man in the whole of church history. The ignorance concerning him is appalling" (pg 105 here). He's one of the great dead guys that I am spending some time studying. This page exists to bring together various Whitefield Resources: journals, sermons, letters, biographies, websites, etc. My hope is to create a resource page of every known good Whitefield resource for my readers. Thank you for sharing it through social media, linking to it on your website or blog, etc. If you find resources I'm missing, please email them to me so I can add them.

UPDATE 9.12.12 | Not sure for how long, but The Sermons of George Whitefield (2 Vols, 976 pages, ed. Lee Gattis, footnoted, modern grammar) is $9.99 for Kindle.



In Print...

NEVER REPRINTED: Sermons of George Whitefield (via Quinta Press)



Whitefield/Wesley Exchange...






Not my recommendations, but a listing of the books I have had recommended (to some degree) to me. Please let me know other books worth listing here.


Tons of photos, sketches, artwork, locations, etc., from Quinta Press...

Folk Angel: Comfort & Joy

Folk Angel put out a Christmas Songs EP in 2009 and another EP in 2010, Headed Home - Christmas Songs. Now finally a full-length Christmas album from Folk Angel: Comfort & Joy. Eleven songs on the new one, including "O Come All Ye Faithful," "O Holy Night," and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Featured artists include Lauren Chandler, Robbie Seay, Shane & Shane, and others. Love this band and their americana Christmas sound. Learn more at FolkAngel.com and their FacebookBandcamp sites. Follow @FolkAngelMusic.


Tim Keller | Exploring the Mysteries of the Gospel

From Tim Keller's forward to JD Greear's new book, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (via)...

It is one thing to understand the gospel but is quite another to experience the gospel in such a way that it fundamentally changes us and becomes the source of our identity and security. It is one thing to grasp the essence of the gospel but it quite another to think out its implications for all of life. We all struggle to explore the mysteries of the gospel on a regular basis, but we should strive to dive into it and allow its message to influence our thinking daily.

Read the rest, buy the book.

Okkervil River | "Wake & Be Fine"

I'm a big Okkervil River fan. Some of the most creative indie music around. Lyrically rich. New album, I Am Very Far, drops in May. I can't say enough how much I love their albums: Black Sheep Boy (and Appendix), The Stage Names, The Stand Ins. Here's the official video for "Wake and Be Fine" off their new album (via)...

Open-Air Preaching


Here's my growing list of open-air preaching posts, quotes, and as I find ones worth recommending, resources. I'm only going to link the resources I like best, and there's a lot of stuff I don't like. For future reference, this page can be found under "Compass" on the right side-bar.


  1. *The Gospel in the Open-Air Again | start here
  2. Guidelines for Open-Air Preaching
  3. Open-Air Preaching is Optional?
  4. Missional Open-Air Preaching
  5. Steps Toward Open-Air Preaching
  6. Open-Air Preaching, Gospel Power, & Interruption
  7. Preaching Has Great POWER
  8. The Future of the Evangelist



First three are precursors to the open-air series above. I didn't know they were going to spark so much on the blog. 

  1. The Public Square and the Open-Air 
  2. The Kids Downtown
  3. Know Your City - Remember the Poor


Charles Spurgeon

Lectures To My Students | Two chapters on open-air preaching. Easily the most helpful stuff I've read on the subject. I believe he shows the best grasp of the goodness of and need for open-air preaching. His teaching on the how, where, when is just as relevant today as ever. Principles stay the same.

Open-Air Preaching: A sketch of it's history and remarks thereon | Not sure how much of this is from Spurgeon's book or elsewhere. 

Michael Green

Evangelism in the Early Church | One of the key sources I've used to think about open-air preaching as seen in the Bible.

Thirty Years That Changed The World: The Book of Acts for Today | There's a small section in which Green talks about Acts preaching and then proposes some ways to do open-air today. I don't love all his suggestions, but it's worth checking out.

The Poison Tree | Music Discovery

I liked the cover. It was that simple. It intrigued me. So I chose to listen to a live stream of The Poison Tree's new, self-titled album last week. Then I listened again. Loved it. It was released yesterday and I had to pick it up. I want to encourage you to pick it up too. Or listen to it streaming FREE. The clips don't do it justice. Let me know what you think.


Music Monday: Cheap | New | Soon 2.14.11






Music Monday: New Radiohead Album

It is Valentine's Day and Radiohead loves you. TKOLPackshot

The King of Limbs is what Radiohead is calling their new album. Pre-order it and download it this Saturday.

Digital download: $9 for MP3 or $14 for WAV uncompressed. Another option is the $48/$53 world's first (perhaps) "Newspaper Album"...

Radiohead's new record, The King Of Limbs, is presented here as the world's first* Newspaper Album, comprising:

  • Two clear 10" vinyl records in a purpose-built record sleeve.
  • A compact disc.
  • Many large sheets of artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork and a full-colour piece of oxo-degradeable plastic to hold it all together.
  • The Newspaper Album comes with a digital download that is compatible with all good digital media players.
  • The Newspaper Album will be shipped on Monday 9th May 2011 you can, however, enjoy the download on Saturday 19th February 2011.
  • Shipping is included in the prices shown.
  • One lucky owner of the digital version of The King Of Limbs, purchased from this website, will receive a signed 2 track 12" vinyl.

Ligonier Commentaries (Keith Mathison)