Do We Get to Choose Our Neighbors? Interview with Dave Runyon [Podcast 022]

Co-author of The Art of Neighboring

Are you like me and most other people? You kind of know your neighbors, well, at least you wave at them as you come and go. I might know their first names, but don’t ask me the names of their kids.

If we aren’t intentional about not just meeting our neighbors, but getting to know them, it probably won’t ever happen.

In today’s podcast episode, I interview Dave Runyon, co-author of The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door.

I appreciate Dave’s authentic way of sharing his journey to embracing one of Jesus’ basic commands, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Below you can get a glimpse of what you will hear in our interview.

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Have We Changed What It Means to Be a Disciple?

3 Ways We Have Lowered the Bar for Discipleship

When I say “We” I refer to the church. I count myself in that clan. I grew up going to church every Sunday. Our family attended church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and any other time something was going on at the church.

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That wasn’t a negative thing for me. It was my extended family. We did a lot of life together with other families. Many Godly men and women influenced my life in positive ways.

Looking back I recognize something that has become engrained in today’s church culture. It’s the idea that once a person “prays a prayer” of salvation, the job is complete. Now just keep hanging around the church, and you will be okay.

I prayed a “prayer of salvation” at the age of seven. I have a Bible with the date written in my seven-year-old handwriting in the front cover. I found the Bible on my bookshelf. Take a look!

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How to Live in Community without Getting Hurt

5 Reasons We Find it Hard to Live in Community

Living in community is a lost way of life. We are aware that we don’t even know our neighbors much less live in community with them. And I understand why. It is a pain.

Photo Credit: safrinanoor via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: safrinanoor via Compfight cc

During the generation when families moved from rural farming communities into more urban settings, they brought with them a sense of community. They built houses with big front porches. They helped each other with projects, sick kids, errands…anyway they could. That was the “neighborly” thing to do.

But somewhere over time that way of life has all but disappeared. Sure pockets of it exist. But now people build their houses so that they live life in their backyards behind their privacy fences after they have pulled their cars into their garages opened and closed by automatic door openers. The only act of being “neighborly” is the head nod at “what’s his name again?”

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3 Things I Love about the Church

Lately it’s easy to find someone bashing the church bemoaning everything that they find wrong with it. However there are many things to love about the church.

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I think the disconnect lies with how we define church.

If you are referring to the multi-million dollar campuses that dot our landscape, the endless hours spent by professionals running the “machine”, or the entertainment approach so “they will stay at our church”, then you are right. I am not in love with that church.

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Giving Thanks

Our god-daughter turned 10 years-old a few weeks ago. She is the oldest of four children ages six to 10. We pray all the time for the health and safety of their parents! It’s hard to imagine that our god-daughter is 10 already. Danielle was in the delivery room for her birth what seemed like just a couple of years ago.

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Danielle put together a birthday present for her consisting of different crafty items. It was a simple present. When we arrived at their house, the kids were outside running and playing. They always greet us with enthusiasm then go on with whatever game they have going on.

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7 Years Later What I Still Miss about Thailand

Seven years ago this month Danielle and I rode quietly in a taxi for the hour or so ride from Pattaya to Bangkok. We were on our way to the airport for our return flight to the U.S. If we had not purchased round trip tickets, I am not sure we would have returned. At least not then.

Arriving in Thailand May 2007

Arriving in Thailand May 2007

We each looked out our own side window lost in our own thoughts trying to hold our emotions in. I find it hard to believe that it has been seven years since that day.

We spent our last two days in Pattaya saying good-bye to people who in just a few months had become life-long friends. I can still feel the strong sense of loss I felt deep within me.

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The Most Effective Way to Disciple

Anyone who knows me knows I am all about radically responding to the needs of those around me. Helping build a home a long the border in South Texas; repairing a home of a working poor family in the midst of affluent neighbors in Lake Travis; meeting the need of  a homeless person; defending the orphan, even adopting a child; supporting and serving alongside those on the foreign mission field—these are all ways I have responded.

Helping build a church in Louisiana

Helping build a church in Louisiana

However I can fool myself into believing that I have discipled others through these actions. They are a good first step, but they don’t necessarily disciple anyone. The challenge with this list is that for most of the activities my time spent with people is/was brief, a few days at a time at best.

Now I am not saying I will stop doing these things, but when we think that these brief interactions focused on meeting a need accomplishes the mission, we miss the mark.

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Our Biggest Need as Foster to Adopt Parents

When we decided to foster children and possibly adopt a few years ago, we received different responses. Most responded with excitement. Others responded with caution.

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Four years later after foster classes, anticipation of foster placements, ups and downs of fostering, and the joy of adopting, we still have a big need as foster to adopt parents.

We need support and community.

Too often foster and adoptive families feel isolated and alone in their journey. Any parent of young children understands that feeling. Just compound that feeling multiple times when it comes to parenting a child from a hard place.

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