Tag Archives: spiritual growth

Designed for Relationship

I’m really excited to announce the publication of a new book written by a close friend of mine, T.J. MacLeslie!

This book, his second, is entitled Designed for Relationship, and is an insightful exploration into the nature of humanity.

You can read my review of the book on Amazon here:

I was privileged to be involved alongside of T.J. for much of this project, including developing several companion resources to go along with the book. Head over to the book’s website at to read more and to take advantage of the freely offered supplemental resources!

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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Reviews


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Supply-Side Faith

I was talking with a friend of mine just a few weeks ago. He’s a Christian missionary and, as a result, he receives his salary through the charitable support donations of many churches and families that want to enable his work.

He shared with me that it’s interesting to look back over life. He has previously worked jobs that had a more traditional salary, where he wasn’t so obviously in need of soliciting donations from others.

It would seem to me that having a regular salaried position would in every way be preferable to living with the uncertainty and burden of enlisting donors and hoping that they send in their checks each month.

But his reflection was otherwise.

When he had his regular salary, he knew exactly how much he would get paid each month. Some months, it was obviously enough to support him and his family, and even to enjoy some non-essentials in life. But in other months, huge expenses loomed on the horizon, or unexpected emergencies arose, and all of a sudden that fixed salary was no longer sufficient. He knew how much he was getting, and he knew how much financial demand there was, and the two did not balance out. It took faith. Given his amount of salary, God would have to do something to decrease the demand, or the expenses couldn’t be covered.

Now, in living on support, he saw a different dynamic. He could never guess exactly how much would come in each month. Some people committed and gave faithfully each month. Others sent in larger donations less frequently. Still others had the best of intentions but the funds rarely appeared.

And the burden on his faith shifted. Whereas before he felt the income was guaranteed and the expenses were a challenge of faith, now he found himself having to trust God for the supply-side of things. He knew that rent was due. That visas would have to be renewed. Taxes would have to be paid. Would the funds be there? Would they come in this month? Next month? Next year?

Whether it’s supply-side faith or demand-side faith, it’s a question of faith either way. Whether the direct deposit amount from our employer seems solid and trustworthy, or whether our commission check or the charitable donations of others remain an open question from month to month, we all live in a place of needing to trust that God will provide.

Sometimes, He provides extra funds. An unexpected gift. A timely bonus. A rejoicing raise.

Sometimes, He reduces the demand. The kid gets a scholarship. The hurricane leaves the house untouched. A car warranty kicks in.

I find myself currently in a situation of needing to exercise some supply-side faith. God has recently, several times, demonstrated His ability to reduce the demand. His provision in this way has been good, lavish, and timely. But now, I feel the question of supply-side hanging over me. Where will the money come from? Will it be enough? What else should I do? Where else can we squeeze the budget?

I’m not alone in these questions. The economy of the last few years has been hard on many. Some people that never felt much pressure for either demand-side faith or supply-side faith are suddenly finding themselves needing to grow in both.

And I’ve been down the supply-side faith journey before. But God has brought me back to it again. Time to learn some more lessons, I guess. Time to experience His goodness once again, to grow in seeing just how big He is, how He truly holds all things–both my bills and my bonuses–in His hands.

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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Life


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Review: The Practice of the Presence of God

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a review of anything. I’ve been busy reading, but don’t always stop to collect my thoughts and reflect after completing a book.

One of the Christian classics on prayer is The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. Originally written by a monk in the 17th century, it has continually been referred to as encouragement to engage in a lifestyle of prayer and continual awareness of the existence and love of God–both when we’re engaged in “religious” activities as well as when we’re tending to our usual work in life (even our chores).

I read this book twice this year (in June & Sept)–which means it must be a quick read as I’m a slow reader.  🙂  It is indeed a very short book (only about 30 pgs), and very approachable: it’s not full of theological jargon or esoteric platitudes.

The message of the book is often summarized as “all of life should be prayer.”

Honestly, I think that’s a misstatement. While the idea of “pray continually” is certainly a biblical one (1 Thess 5:17), I think Brother Lawrence’s recommendation is to engage in life with a mindfulness of the reality of God. He tells us that it will take some training of our awareness and will in order to achieve that, but that it is achievable, and engaging in this practice leads to an incredible sense of delight, even amidst the most humdrum chores or the most uncomfortable suffering.

Half of the book is related as notes of conversations from a friend of Brother Lawrence’s, and the second half of the book is letters written by Brother Lawrence. In my style of re-view, I’ll capture here just a few of the quotes that spoke to me; if you’d like to read the complete list (rather lengthy) you can check it out here. My own thoughts indicated in bold.

* “[Brother Lawrence related] that he had placed his sins betwixt himself and GOD, as it were, to tell Him that he did not deserve His favors, but that GOD still continued to bestow them in abundance.” Even we cannot use our sin to separate us from the love of God!

* “[Brother Lawrence related] that we ought to act with GOD in the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly, and imploring His assistance in our affairs, just as they happen. That GOD never failed to grant it, as he had often experienced.” Desperate honesty before the Lord, and assurance of His goodness.

* “[Brother Lawrence related] that the most excellent method he had found of going to GOD, was that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing men, and (as far as we are capable) purely for the love of GOD.” Can I do my math homework “purely for the love of God?”

* “[Brother Lawrence related] that all things are possible to him who believes–that they are less difficult to him who hopes–that they are more easy to him who loves, and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues.” It comes back to faith, hope, and love.

* “[Brother Lawrence related that] when he had finished [with a task], he examined himself how he had discharged his duty; if he found well, he returned thanks to GOD; if otherwise, he asked pardon; and without being discouraged, he set his mind right again, and continued his exercise of the presence of GOD, as if he had never deviated from it.”

* “…not to advance in the spiritual life is to go back.”

* “He requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance from time to time; a little adoration; sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you, and still gives you, in the midst of your troubles, and to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can…the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we are aware of.” It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, lengthy seeking; just encounter God in the moments throughout the day.

* “She seems to me full of good will, but she would go faster than grace. One does not become holy all at once.” It takes time to grow.

* “We must know before we can love. In order to know GOD, we must often think of Him; and when we come to love Him, we shall then also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure. This is an argument which well deserves your consideration.”

* “Let all our employment be to know GOD: the more one knows Him, the more one desires to know Him. And as knowledge is commonly the measure of love, the deeper and more extensive our knowledge shall be, the greater will be our love….”

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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Reviews


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