Keeping Knowledge from Puffing Up

I have a friend who, by the time of this posting, will have finished her dissertation defense. By God’s grace, I’ll be in that spot in about a month. After people complete their defense, they are the proud owners of an infinitesimal amount of knowledge in a section of a section of a section of a sliver of the knowledge pie. Their dissertation goes on the shelf of a library somewhere and will barely ever be referenced again (in most cases). (I have a friend who said he was considering putting a $20 bill into his dissertation just to see if anyone would ever take it off the shelf and thumb through it.)

Knowledge is an interesting thing. Some people crave it; others run away from it. We don’t want to be too “heady” and lose the heart, or so we say. At the same time, we are supposed to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind (Matt 22:37). We hear that knowledge puffs up (1 Cor 8:1) so we might wonder if there is any use for knowledge and growing in knowledge. I find at least two ways to keep knowledge from puffing up . . .

Continue reading “Keeping Knowledge from Puffing Up”

Tensions in Grace and Growth

This Sunday we will be continuing in our Resolved series. Every Sunday we are pulling back the curtain on our motivations and, by God’s grace, praying for the Scriptures to take root and produce new convictions and habits. Personally, I have found this series both challenging and encouraging. It has been challenging because I am finding so many areas where I leave my life unchecked. It has been encouraging because grace always stands to receive me when I realize that.

This Sunday we delve into just that idea—how do we think about the grace we have in Jesus and, at the same time, our own personal growth as believers? These topics bring tension—both for the preacher and for the listener. Continue reading “Tensions in Grace and Growth”

I’m the Vitas Gerulaitis of Conquering Sin

Federer? Nadal? Serena? Nah. I’m more of a Gerulaitis kind of guy. You don’t know Gerulaitis? Neither did I until Courtney told me about him (by way of her dad, who loves sports and has an uncanny knack for trivia). You should know Vitas Gerulaitis, though. I bet you’re more like him, too.

Vitas Gerulaitis ascended the ranks of the tennis world—all the way to a world ranking of #3. He wasn’t the greatest; he wasn’t the worst. He even won the Australian Open. But man, did he stink when he played Jimmy Connors.  Continue reading “I’m the Vitas Gerulaitis of Conquering Sin”

Three Responses to the Same Comment (Or, How the Lord is Changing Me)

“Hans, when I first met you I didn’t think you liked me.”

That’s what my friend David told me back in my seminary days. I’ve had some variation of that comment given to me at different times since I was in college. It doesn’t happen with a lot of frequency, but it happens enough to notice. It might be, “You looked at me and didn’t say anything,” “You walked right by me,” “You weren’t friendly,” or some similar statement.


Others who know me find those comments completely out of sorts—and are surprised others would feel that way (thanks guys, I owe you one). Still, I have gotten the comments enough that I’ve wondered the past few months if there is something to it, or a better way to respond. As I’ve tried to think through it recently, I’ve found that I have responded to such a criticism in three different ways—and with each one the Lord shaving one more rough spot off of my personality.  Continue reading “Three Responses to the Same Comment (Or, How the Lord is Changing Me)”

Propping Up Our Growth

My friend has a home with beautiful oak trees. Big ones. The kind that are older than you or me. The kind that can handle tree houses, swings, target practice, and lots of children. The kind that keep you cool in the summer and dry in its rain. The first time I went to his house, they were one of the first things I noticed and spoke of. “These trees are beautiful,” I said as I admired the way they twisted and stretched out over the yard, caring for it like a mother caring for her children.
IMG 5857

I also noticed that the trees apparently needed a little help. Two support poles propped up one of the largest branches, kind of like a branch crutch. The idea being that the tree didn’t have the strength to hold itself up, so at one point in time, some kind-hearted people added a brace—just to help it a little.

In talking to my friend, I was surprised to find that the tree likely didn’t need the brace—at least not at first. Apparently, and this all comes through the words of the smart tree people (my new band name), oaks aren’t stupid. While it may have grown differently without the brace, the root system would’ve supported the weight and the sideways growth. The brace was just to mitigate against potential issues by well-intentioned tenants.

But now the tree needs it.

Continue reading “Propping Up Our Growth”

Four Ways I Fake Being Disciplined

In many ways, I’m a fraud. There’s no way around it and no way of hiding it.

Some (not many, just some) look at my life, have heard the goofy rules I make from year to year (like not drinking soft drinks or eating cookies or cake, or something ridiculous like that) and assume I’m disciplined. Some (not many, just some) may see that at times I start my days early in meetings and that proves some kind of discipline. Some (not many, just some) might assume that because I have a degree on my wall, I know how to get an education.

None of it is true. And Jim Collins lets me know that it’ll keep me from becoming truly great. (I actually really like his work.)

So, if you’re a fraud like me (or want to be), I thought I’d share with you a few ways that I fake discipline. . .

Continue reading “Four Ways I Fake Being Disciplined”