Nelson Searcy’s New Book: Do Words Really Still Matter in a Social Media Saturated World?

Young hipster brothers having fun with smartphone - Best friends

Do your words really matter in this social media obsessed world or can they just be thrown around willy-nilly without any real consequences?  Nelson Searcy tries to answer this question in his new book “Tongue Pierced.” [Read more...]

A Fresh Breath of the Spirit – Book Review of “40 Days with the Holy Spirit”


By Lisa Burgess

So many books on God. On Jesus. But the Holy Spirit? Jack Levison writes to fill that gap. While his latest book, 40 Days with the Holy Spirit: Fresh Air for Every Day, is about the Spirit for every day, it’s more. It’s also a book for every person.

Early on in the book, I caught that we grew up in the same religious heritage. We knew the Spirit existed, even though he was mysteriously absent most of the time in sermons, classes, and conversations. Then like Levison, the more I branched out, the more I realized how critical the Spirit is to our practical Christian life. How much had I been missing?

40 Days with the Holy Spirit aims to show us a more joyful and fulfilled life with our awareness of the Holy Spirit in it. It is practical in every sense. It’s not meant only to be read; it’s also meant to be lived. And in particular, Levison gives us seven specific ways—inner world to outer world—that it’s to be lived: through breathing, praying, practicing, learning, leading, building, and blossoming.

BookCoverHe subdivides the book into four to six days with each of these seven verbs. Each day begins with a short biblical text, a story section to meditate on, an open space for our own written reflections, and ends with a prayer addressing the Holy Spirit’s movement in our lives.

Each one could easily be a stand-alone devotional, yet Levison weaves enough of a common thread between the days that you benefit from the continuity. He brings his own personal stories to the Meditate sections (along with an occasional voice from the desert fathers or Eugene Peterson or an eyewitness to Nazi atrocities), yet he stays focused on the biblical stories and remains centered on the role of the Spirit throughout the book.

I look forward during the upcoming Lenten season to spend more time with the Spirit through the guidance from this book. Levison understands that experiences with the Holy Spirit aren’t one-size-fits-all, so I anticipate my journey with this least familiar member of the Trinity to be unique. Towards the end of the book, Levison actually encourages that uniqueness by suggesting we venture into unknown territory (and mixes in a little southern vernacular to capture the Greek plural pronoun):

“If you’re Pentecostal, worship with Episcopalians. If you’re Catholic, study with the Baptists. If you’re Methodist, meditate with Greek Orthodox Christians. I dare you! And why? Just once more: because y’all are God’s temple and God’s Spirit dwells in y’all.”

The structure provided in this book is just enough to walk us through study and prayer on the Holy Spirit, yet frees us enough to take the path individualized for us in his presence.

On Day 40 Levison writes, “The work of the Spirit is not just something brand new. It is something old made new for us. The Spirit, in this final welcome, brings ancient Scripture to life.”

Life. With a fresh breath of the Spirit moving through us, life is exactly what we invite the Spirit to.


Lisa-Burgess_LisaNotesLisa Burgess writes about how she sees God in everyday moments and ordinary lives. An avid reader, she also reviews books and tells stories of grace at her blog Lisa notes. Follow Lisa on Twitter and Facebook.

For more conversation on 40 Days with the Holy Spirit, visit the Patheos Book Club here!


Top Five Ways to Teach Your Child Social and Emotional Skills at Home

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Guest post by Sofia Dickens

For years I’ve been hearing people talk about the importance of emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ, and how it’s vital to a person’s success in life- their career satisfaction and the health of their relationships. Emotional intelligence and EQ are just is a fancy way of saying social skills, emotional control, and leadership qualities. There must be a reason 70% of Fortune 500 companies are setting aside budgets to train in emotional intelligence, right? [Read more...]

Bitter New Trend: “Divorce Cakes”

“Let them eat cake,” Marie Antoinette may have mockingly said upon hearing that the French peasants had no bread to eat. Recently divorced couples seem to have taken her cue.  During what was once considered a dark hour, people are now throwing divorce parties, complete with what they are now calling “freedom cakes.”  [Read more...]

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Stones of Memory

The following is a special Memorial Day guest post from our friend, Douglas E. Baker:


Ten rocks rest on the top of Corporal Benjamin Stephen Kopp’s headstone in Arlington National Cemetery.  On an early Spring afternoon, three Army Rangers stand near his grave in their dress uniform discussing the life of this young man who died of wounds suffered in Afghanistan. Stories of the fallen quickly spread through Ranger ranks, and they heard about Ben’s life and heroic death on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan after serving two tours in Iraq.

While attending the funeral of another fallen Ranger, they walked by Ben’s grave to remember and ponder how the only child from a broken home in Minnesota could rise to such heroic heights only to find his end among the thousands of others who rest in the cemetery’s hallowed grounds. They lamented that so few know the stories of men, like Ben Kopp, who gave their lives in service to their nation.

These three Rangers spoke of a growing dichotomy between members of the American citizenry:  those who have worn the uniform and those who have not. Speaking off the record, these young men tell of a creeping disrespect born of total ignorance of what actually happens in a theater of battle. Proportionate to the United States population, so few young Americans have seen what they have seen. At only 21 years old, these three soldiers have watched friends bleeding from the mouth as their lives drained away in bitter drops. They have held the hand of friends who seconds earlier had been running down a hill only to be shot at close range and die far from home in a place where the heat and the smell of the air would make most Americans their age nauseous.

There are thousands of stories of military heroes who anonymously serve in the shadows of the American consciousness. And these are the very men that Marcus Luttrell seeks to bring into the light. His newest book, Service:  A Naval Seal at War, picks up where his first book left off. Lone Survivor told of his near-death experience with the Taliban, and serves as the written account and memorial of the lives of Danny Deitz, Michael Murphy, and Matthew Axelson. The story of Murphy’s Ridge will stand for generations because of Luttrell, whose writing reveals the horrors of war and the deep grief of saying goodbye to his brothers who died heroically at his side.

Men who serve in combat seldom get over it. The trauma of observing a violent death changes the way the mind and the body coordinate. Sleep is often elusive, and the mental snapshots seldom fade even years after the gunfire grows silent. Luttrell is no exception. The growing chasm between warriors and civilians was personally evidenced by Luttrell after his service abroad when his four-year-old yellow Labrador, DASY, was brutally beaten and murdered by young men a decade younger and a world away from him.

His recent interview with Matt Lauer on the release of the book reveals a man – now a husband and father – who still holds little patience for those who attempt either to avoid the reality of war altogether or to sensationalize the tactics of covert communities who operate under a cloak of secrecy. He desires to tell the stories of men and women who daily live in areas of the world where they die alone — never to be remembered by the people they serve unto death.

War is the most striking reminder of sin known to man. Just war theory and the elaborate philosophical and theological apparatus surrounding armed conflict between nations matter little to the mother who sits before a flag-draped casket containing the body of an only son felled by an enemy’s bullet. Wives wail when they say good-bye to their husbands. Children come to Arlington Cemetery to view the only visible reminder that they had a father or brother or sister who never came home.

Three years passed since Ben Kopp graduated from Rosemount High School near Minneapolis, MN and the day he died at Walter Reed Medical Center. A picture of him clad in combat attire is affixed to the back of his headstone where a text from Holy Scripture appears: “Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends, John 15:13.”

Theologically, heroism of the sort that Kopp’s life portrays and Luttrell’s writing conveys is but a reminder of another life of one man who experienced violent persecution and death of the sort that few human beings ever encounter. In that death, however, a great transaction took place that would one day render the graves of those like Benjamin Kopp obsolete. For Kopp had confessed that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead would one day make death powerless to swallow up his life in a grave. Until that moment when the final tear falls, stories like that of Benjamin Stephen Kopp remind us that another war has already been fought and won, and when the full scope of that victory is finally realized then no war shall ever be fought again.