Tag: James Bryan Smith

Surprise People

Prepare for the worst. You and I can think of scenarios where this applies. The moment you get the email saying, “Can I meet with you to discuss something?” It happens in the meeting where you have to pitch the idea. Some of us shiver with fear walking up to a podium for public speaking. You open the door of the house anticipating loads of laundry, dishes in the sink, and the rest of the house in shambles.


Think of the relief when the worst does not happen. Rather than telling you the bad news, someone wants to sit down and tell you the good news. You hear more encouragement than criticism in the pitch or presentation. Someone has anticipated your exhaustion and cleaned the house. People can surprise us.

Flip the scenario around. You notice another person preparing for the worst. They worry just like you about the reactions to the presentation and the pitch. They anticipate the mess as they open the door to the house.

We know what would like in those circumstances, but how often do we think about others? Better yet, do we respond others in helpful ways?

Experiencing Christ’s grace moves us to recognize the needs of others. The Gospel meets us in everyday life. It’s reflected in our acts of service. It comes through in the moments when people expect the worst.

James Bryan Smith in The Good and Beautiful Community makes this observation about Jesus’ example:

His (Jesus) example becomes our example. Not merely because we want to imitate him and perhaps earn his favor. Being a servant of others is the highest way to live. Wanting and needing to be served by others is not life-producing but soul-destroying, Jesus showed us by example. Jesus the Creator of the universe, the King of all things, comes to serve. He washes the feet of the disciples. He lives to serve.

He not only taught it, he lived it. He gave his life for the good of others, including you and me. We who follow him as teacher are called on to do the same, to shift our focus away from ourselves and onto others.

Serving in Jesus’ name has less do with action and more to do with an attitude. Grace causes us to see what He has done for us; thus, we extend that same grace to others. The Gospel causes us to see the needs of others and respond to them in ways that they can recognize Christ.

In a world full of busyness and self-focus, we surprise people when we offer them grace. They have thought the worst about a circumstance and we have offered them the contrary.

We surprise people when we take the focus off of ourselves and place it on them. It’s the kind word of encouragement when they expected the criticism. It’s doing the mundane chores without being asked. It’s the moment you listen to someone and comment later.

Serving others becomes a tangible expression of living the Gospel in everyday life.

What can you do to surprise someone today? How can you serve them so they can experience grace?

Photo credit by Kelley Bozrarth.

5 Quotes from 2015

What will you remember from 2015? This season calls us to remember how we have grown in the last year.  We think about the certain moments and relationships that caused us to mature. Reflecting on 2015 gives us insight into the work of Christ in us. What we learned, recognized, and areas of our lives that Christ called us to grow.

As I thought about remembering 2015, I wanted to share the five most meaning quotes from this past year:

Aloof: Figuring Out Life with a God who Hides by Tony Kriz


Four Faces of a Leader by Bob Rhoden


1 Peter (Two Horizons New Testament Commentary) by Joel B. Green


The Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith


Leap Over the Wall by Eugene Peterson


What will you remember from 2015? Share in the comment section below.

Truth & Lies

What lies do you believe about yourself? I’ll never forget the first time I faced my lies. A mentor sat across from me in a coffee shop. We began to discuss some reoccurring issues in my life. A couple lies came to the surface; You’re not valuable unless you produce; You still need to earn your friendships; You cannot receive acceptance from God or others.


As I began to speak these lies to him, he provided me with grace and compassion. He talked to me after a brief moment of silence and said, “It’s time to replace those lies with truths.” One by one, we challenged each lie with the truth of scripture and redirecting my focus especially in regards to my friends.

The lies we believe powerfully affect our relationship with God, others, and ourselves. What lies do we believe?
Perfectionism – I cannot mess up or make a mistake.
People Pleasing – I must live up to the standards I think others have on me.
Self-Righteousness – I have done enough to earn God’s love.
Insecurity – I will never measure up to others.
Recognition – My work only matters what people see it, or no one sees my hard work.
Workaholic – If I don’t do it, it will not or cannot get done.

You might add a few lies to the list. Gone unchecked, they cause to look down on ourselves. At times, we look down on others. Lies we tell ourselves blur our vision of God at work in our lives.

The Gospel brings us to the place to recognize God’s truth so that we can experience his grace. Christ frees us from earning his love and comparing ourselves to others. James Bryan Smith speaks of this truth in understanding a “kingdom narrative” in The Good and Beautiful Life:

The kingdom narratives oppose the world’s narratives: You are valuable to God. God loves you no matter what. Your worth is not dependent on your performance or on what others think of you. Your worth is found in the loving eyes of God. If you win, God loves you. If you lose, God loves you. If you fast and pray and give your money to the poor, God loves you. If you are sinful and selfish, God loves you. He is covenant God, and his love never changes (pg. 147)

Replacing the lies, we believe with God’s truth takes time. Today, you have the opportunity to identify these lies, so that you no longer misplace your value. The simple truth; God loves us out of his grace, not of anything we have done or earned.

What lies have you believed? What truth of God’s grace can replace that lie?

Photo credit by Liane Metzler.

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