Spiritual Formation

path(Fumes, Form, and Fashion, Part 2)

Something in the woods near his grandfather’s farm seems to call to Adam. Ever since he was a little boy and his dad took him hiking or hunting there, this is the place where Adam, now a father himself, returns.  It doesn’t happen nearly as often or nearly enough these days. After all, Adam has responsibilities and stresses, and there never seems to be enough time.

For Phillip, it means a return to old disciplines that kept him in good shape throughout his 20s.  Now pushing 40, the problem for Phillip isn’t knowing what to do. It’s finding the will to actually do it.

Jacob follows the trail of his biblical namesake.  Just as the Lord called the patriarch back to Bethel – a place where he had previously encountered the Lord – so also Jacob is sensing a stirring to return to a place of spiritual life and growth he has known in the past.

Each of these are examples of a powerful and important tool of renewal and restoration, regardless of who you are.  But this is particularly true of men.  It’s why you often hear football coaches talk about “going back to the fundamentals.”  The biblical language mentions things like “remembering the former days.”  Check this out: [click to continue…]



I’ve received just under 10,000 calls, texts, or emails over the last few weeks, all wanting to know the same thing:  How’s the little sequoia tree doing?

So rather than answer it both all of them at once, I thought I’d give you an update here.

It’s ugly. [click to continue…]



It was spring 1973 when I happened to catch a little announcement in my home church bulletin that would change my life.  It was an invitation to “Mission 73” – a youth choir trip to Virginia Beach, Virginia, for anyone who had completed the ninth grade.

To say the trip was life-changing is to cheapen the phrase, and the memory of the trip.  You can read more about that here.

In the wisdom and economy of God, He decided that the best way to grow me up, call me out, expose my weaknesses, and reveal my gifts was to put me on a bus or plane with a group of people for a short-term trip, where the mission was serve Him well or fail terribly.  It started with that one trip, continued on through my high school and college years, including a couple of individual or personal partner trips for extended periods, then later internationally to places like the Ukraine, Prague, Vienna, and Thailand.

Now this year we are pleased and excited to announce the launch of a ministry that provides that opportunity to others. After months of talking, praying, planning, and waiting,  LifeVesting International will officially open its doors sometime near June 1 of this year, for the purpose of supporting the work of Christian pastors or other Christian leaders worldwide by providing assistance in the form of volunteer labor, consultation, and/or training.

We recognize that there are many different organizations, large and small, whose purpose is to fill Christ’s Great Commission.   What does the world need with another one?  Why are we doing this?  Aside from simple obedience God (the ultimate consideration), here are seven reasons. [click to continue…]

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Welcome back to my front-row seat.  In my work I have the privilege of reading a lot of stuff.  Some of it is forgettable.  Some of it is way-past-profound, either because of the quality of writing or because of the truth it conveys, and I keep a collection of the ones that bowl me over.  You can see previous collections here and here.  Both are quick reads, but profound in what they speak.

Now this collection of seven happens to have a leadership theme, but they also speak to your spiritual life, your courage, and you humility (or lack thereof).

Now… slow down… breathe deeply… and take these in.  You’ll be glad you did. Click here – you’ll be glad you did…


Looking for ways to kick-start your spiritual growth this year? Or perhaps gather ideas and resources for leading others in their spiritual growth?  Check out some of the sites listed here.

I had some help with this one.  Recently a group of students I was working with searched the Web to evaluate and identify their favorite websites for spiritual growth and discipleship. They evaluated the overall effectiveness of the sites they selected and considered how they could use the site in the future.

I was so delighted with the variety and enthusiasm they brought to the project, I thought I’d put together a master list and share it with you.  The brief, edited comments about the sites are mostly from one or more of the students.

Okay, here’s the official disclaimer:  I haven’t evaluated all these sites in detail.

Here’s official disclaimer #2:  While these are presumed to be doctrinally sound, you won’t have to look far to find people from different traditions, theological stripes, or whatever on the same list.  Use your Bible and your brain (in that order).

For lack of a better plan, I’m listing these in alphabetical order.  Let me know what you think.  And PLEASE let me know if you have other suggestions.  All of these sites were the result of someone doing a web search for “Christian discipleship.”  There are plenty more where these came from.  But check these out first: [click to continue…]


Guided by a clear vision of what could be, and wisdom and skill known only to master craftsmen, the glass blower takes raw, shapeless material and goes about his work.





A beautiful form begins taking shape, made possible by the searing flame. [click to continue…]


Seven or eight years ago, I was taking a shuttle from the Founders Inn Hotel on the edge of Regent University down to the shoreline in Virginia Beach.  It was just the driver and me, and to make conversation, I asked him, “Do you know where London Bridge Baptist Church is?”

“Sure,” he said.  It’s not far from here.  You know somebody there?

“No.  But I went there on my very first mission trip.”

“Why would anybody,” he wanted to know, “come to Virginia Beach on a mission trip?”

That night I didn’t know how to answer him – this man who lives in the shadow of Pat Robertson and CBN, Rock Church, and a host of other citadels of Evangelicalism.  Today I think I do.  It was the Perfect Form.

The Proposition

“Mission ‘73” it was called.  I caught a glimpse of an announcement in our church bulletin.  A youth choir mission trip to Virginia Beach, VA, for students who had completed the ninth grade or older.  Hey, I loved to travel and barely made the age cutoff, so I was sold!  I was still a spiritual newbie, and didn’t really know very many people.  But I was undeterred.

Mark Stone, the pastor of London Bridge at the time, was an old friend of my pastor.  We would go to this crossroads of vacationers, military personnel, and growing suburbanites and conduct Backyard Bible Clubs, help lead out in a church revival, and witness along the Boardwalk and beach along the Atlantic.

The Cast

I was among the youngest – and spiritually greenest –of the 64 or so to go on this adventure.  I was surrounded by people who were older, more established, and way more sure of themselves.  I certainly can’t remember them all, but the list included: [click to continue…]