Archive for the ‘Donald Miller’ Category

Little Frau’s words rang loud and clear: “Wow, they mentioned Chesterton in your class. You know Chesterton, don’t you?”

“Yeh, Chesterton, of course”, I replied. “The town in Indiana?”

“A bad hybrid cigarette derived from a blend of one touted by Ronald Reagan and an anonymous blond model from the 50’s.?”


“An oddball Casanova of silent picture fame?” . “No, that would be you” might have been her reply.

I’ve never claimed to be an extremely well read individual. I am, after all, a bean counter. I do, however, have my literary preferences. Dilbert. The sports page. The Wall Street Journal. Robert Ludlum. Stephen Ambrose. Bob Woodward. Donald Miller. “I could go on, forever, baby”. And, of course, The Bible would make that list.

But, strangely enough, Chesterton has not, to date. So, when Little Frau hollered “Donald Miller is quoting Chesterton on Facebook” earlier today, it naturally got my attention.

So, who is this Chesterton character, you might ask. I know I did. Let’s take a look:


Christian Apologetics“: sounds deep, if not interesting. But, I’m crushed to learn that he was known as the “Prince of Paradox“. Lo, these many months, I’d come to think that was me. How will I ever adjust?



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Celebrate whimsy. Embrace it. Thank you Donald Miller, for putting into words a description of what our friends at Oklahoma Christian University have been doing for many years. The list of characters is long and noteworthy: Stafford North, Terry Johnson, Jim Baxter, Max Dobson, Ralph Burcham, Bob Lashley, Alfred Branch, Jay Jones, Mickey Banister, Dan Hays, John deSteiguer, Jeff Bennett, Lucas Ross, Scott Lamascus, Judson Copeland, Eric Phelps, Jim Baird, Lynn McMillon (and the rest of the Bible Guys), Neil Arter, and I could go on and on.

Videos; they’re called videos, and they are hilarious. What better way to embrace whimsy, and show the “kids” (college students) that we are just regular Joes who like to let our hair down and have a good time.

Tonight was another masterful show at OC’s first week follies. Special thanks to braintrust, Executive Producer, and performer Bob Lashley for 35+ years of great shows and dozens of great videos, and special thanks this year to expert videographer (photographer and editor) Micah Wooten for her hard work and excellent eye for the finished product. And thanks to the original “Dad’s Life” guys on YouTube for the original inspiration and the theme music.

So, without further ado, here is the OC take of “The Dad’s Life”. I hope you have as much fun watching it as we did shooting it. 🙂


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“God is subtle, but He is not malicious. I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world.” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve long thought that to be true, but now wonder if He is not often times speaking to us more directly. Take a random walk with me, and see if you agree.

Many of us recall the “Rocky” movie franchise. He started his saga in the slums of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The movie details him out running past a group of likely unemployed young men standing on a street corner singing “Take it Back”. Four movies later, some good, some less than good, and Rocky is back in the same neighborhood, a rags to riches to rags scenario, but he is still “Rocky Balboa” at the core, albeit changed by time, experience, and the impact of money.

I have experienced in the past 24 hours what I’ll dub “the day of diatribes”, polite though they may have been. This may or may not be considered just one more of the same by the time you finish this reading.

The first diatribe was by a Facebook friend protesting the use of the American flag as a form of forced advertising by a local realtor who placed them in every yard as far as the eye can see.

The second diatribe hit a little closer to home. It was written by a youth minister in Texas about the problem of increasing costs in higher education, specifically private faith based education, and the amount of debt it takes for many to get an undergraduate degree. The university for which I work’s mission statement is “Transforming Lives for faith, scholarship, and service.” Trust me when I say we do not intend for that to be “debt service”, and are listening and seeking solutions to the broad based problem of the higher education industry making our experience affordable and relevant. Pardon my digression from the topic at hand.

The third diatribe dealt with the problem of sensationalism and desensitizing in our mass media, all to get attention and “viewership”. It is a well written piece about things that are good and true, and you can read it at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/rdc-editorial-whatever-is-good-true-beautiful/

The fourth piece, more a reflection than a diatribe, was a personal look at living a purposeful life, and not a life of “Shadow Purposes” as we are so prone to do in this rich society. It can be read at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/chasing-my-shadow-purpose/

The final referenced piece in the “24 hours of diatribes” was my own, preceding this one, mind you. I read an article this morning about the NBA lockout and some of the quotes in a war of mega millionaires fighting mega millionaires over who gets the bigger share of the billions being offered by the masses at the alter of modern day entertainment. I love the NBA, but this article made me mad, and I suspect it will do the same for many fans as what promises to be a protracted labor negotiation fight plays out.

To paraphrase author Donald Miller, I think we all have forgotten that we are just trees in a story about a forest. The forest may be on fire all around us, but we are too focused on the near surroundings and our own concerns to notice.

The global economy appears to be badly broken. We have “stored up treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19) and need to be prepared for a different day and age, even within the lifespan of some current generations. The economic storm is raging as we speak in benefit rich European society, and the tsunami is racing toward us across the Atlantic even now. Societies are in debt up to their eyeballs; we are soft; we are spoiled. And fundamental societal things are changing. We are aging. The balance of trade and who makes and who buys is evolving. Health care is a concern. The U.S. Government won’t be able to pay for it all or fix all that ailes us. All the while, I fear we are standing on the beach arguing over who gets the bigger share of sandbags while we should be moving to higher ground to stay safely out of the coming wake.

Our societies often have found themselves in these moments in history, and it seems they are often ultimately resolved by fighting a war. The U.S. War for Independence; the French Revolution; the U.S. Civil War; WWI; WWII; the Middle East conflicts. Its about a groundswell of the masses when they can’t get what they want and need, and when the establishment is out of touch. We may be entering another “let them eat cake” moment, I fear. Get the picture?

I think the establishment may be catching on. One of the more telling advertisements running on TV today is “More Saving: More Doing; That’s the power of the Home Depot”. We need to realize that David Stanley (OKC auto dealer) does not really lead the way. The Mathes Brothers may have “our style at our price”, but they will never know us by name.

As I began to pour these random reflections down and try to tie them together cohesively, I looked through the “categories and tags” section of my blog site, and a huge percentage of those previously used seemed strikingly relevent. Take a look at all those listed at the end of this and see if you agree.

After an early morning of pondering these thoughts, I got into the car to come to the office and was immediately presented with “Awakening” by Switchfoot playing on my car radio. God is subtle, indeed, and He was speaking right to me.

Face down with the L.A. curbside endings
In ones and zeros
Downtown was the perfect place to hide

The first star that I saw last night
Was a headlight of a man-made sky
But man-made never made our dreams collide, collide

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

Last week saw me living for nothing but deadlines
With my dead beat sky
But this town doesn’t look the same tonight

These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And all my life I don’t know
That I’ve ever felt so alive, alive

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, I’m bleeding

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna live like I know what I’m leaving
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, it’s beating, it’s beating, I’m bleeding

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
But you’ve been talk, talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening
Dream, we’re awakening

So, where do we go from here, in this digital community, and in each of our own “cities of brotherly love”? Maybe we are a little like that prizefighter who has gone one or two rounds too far, and needs to reset. What is our task? More saving, more doing? Maybe. Less spending, more doing? Likely. More sharing, more caring? Absolutely. Heightened attention spans are in order. We’re awakening. The bar is raised. A groundswell is happening all around us, and a tsunami may (or may not) be headed are way. Let’s move to higher ground and be ready.

Take me back.

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I need to share a story with you this morning. No surprise there. The surprise is in the turns of the story.

In listening a second time, one year removed, to an audio version of Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles In a Thousand Years”, the following quote is an appropriate lead in for this post:

“People love to have a lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.” I often feel that I’m not willing to pay the cost for joy. It’s difficult to give up my comfort. It’s difficult to leave my comfort zone. Pain is not comfortable. But that’s the price.And so living your life deliberately – living your life on purpose – requires something extra of yourself. But giving the something extra is addictive.”

So, here is the story.

I made an early morning milk run last week to get some breakfast fixin’s for my hungry children. While in the store, I ran into a guy who is about to make a kidney donation to a mutual friend and
older mentor at church.

I asked the man “how did this come
together?”, and his answer was quite intriguing. It seems that about 10 years ago, this man woke up one day and told his wife “I want to donate my kidney. I don’t know why, necessarily, but it’s just something I think I should do”.

Time passed. 10 years, give or take, to be exact. Nothing was done to follow up on the desire to donate, but the desire remained. This man then happened to be at church on a Wednesday night (something he says he almost never does, BTW) and he runs into our mutual friend.

Unknowing of the friend’s medical condition and need, he asked how he was doing. Upon hearing of the friend’s need for a kidney transplant, he said “you can have mine”.

Disbelief followed, along with denial and “you need to think about this first”. The man’s response, naturally was “I already have: for 10 years, in fact”.

Weeks passed and they finally reached agreement, and wouldn’t you know it, but they are a match. The donation will be happening soon.

I know risk follows, and we need to pray for both of these men, but I could not leave with my milk that morning without being struck by how God moves in a mysterious way. A man even wrote a song about it over 200 years ago:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.


The song was penned by a William
Cowper (1731 – 1800). His story is not so great. He was born into wealth and opportunity, but when love escaped him and challenges faced him, he slipped in and out of bouts of depression and insanity for the rest of his life. And yet, his name, his story, and more importantly, his music, are still influencing us today.

So, this morning, I’m moved in what is likely no longer such a mysterious way. Why did this man get to the point of needing a kidney? Why is there disease, war, poverty, abuse, and hatred in this world?

Good things happen, and bad things happen, but we are called upon in both counts to make a difference in our own unique, special, and even mysterious way, and in so doing, to live a better story.

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Last July, I listened to Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years” while on our road trip to the Grand Canyon and Colorado. Kudos and thanks go to Little Frau for buying me that membership to Audible a couple of years ago. It has been one of two or three major life habit changing events over that time frame.

I began to listen to Miller’s book for a second time as we hit the road on Saturday for another trip, this time southward to elevations much closer to sea level. Correction, make that, at sea level!

The book has prompted me to “tell a better story”, and is prompting me to work on “living better stories”. I’m bookmarking some of my favorite quotes, and home to take some beach balcony time later in the week to share them here. In the interim, here are just a couple to chew on:

“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, it’s like that with life. People love to have a lived a great story, but few people like to work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”

“And that’s the thing you realize when you organize your life into the structure of story. You get a taste for one story and then another, and then another, and the stories will build until your living a kind of epic of risk and reward, and the whole thing will be molding you into the actual character whose roles you’ve been playing. And when you live a good story, you get a taste for kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. The more practice stories I lived, the more I wanted an epic to climb inside of and see through to its end.”



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Last Week was the “ladies auxiliary” garage sale in support of the university with which I work.    The night before the big event, late that night, a friend and I were delivering some priceless items (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure?) for sale the next day, and doing a little shopping of my own.

I picked up the two gems pictured here for the sum total of one U.S. Dollar.    What a steal!    The book was an interest point, as I’ve been part way thru the audio book for UNCHRISTIAN already, but the porcelain nativity was a bit of a joke – something for my desk – a “conversation piece”.

As I was pondering the next morning over the subtle “spiritual dichotomy” of these two purchases, UNCHRISTIAN, the book, and a Nativity sculpture set, I ran across the following blog post forwarded via a friend’s Twitter account.

Talk about “spiritual dichotomy”….What makes us do what we do?    What makes us think some of the things we think?     Say some of the things we say?    What would Jesus do?  I love reading Donald Miller, as well, but often find him unorthodox and challenging to agree with.

 I don’t have many answers here, but was left to think by the concepts in this piece.    And think we should: Exercise discernment.



I bought Donald Miller‘s book A Million Miles In A Thousand Years for my wife recently…at Barnes & Noble – across the street from my local LifeWay store. I think I was too hard on them.

I planned to buy it at LifeWay but when I pulled the book from the shelf I discovered that it – and every book by Donald Miller at the store – comes with a slip of paper tucked inside, a note instructing me to get extra info on Donald from the cashier before making my purchase. So I did. The extra info turned out to be a warning which read, in part:

We want you to know that the authors of books marked Read with Discernment may have espoused thoughts, ideas, or concepts that could be considered inconsistent with historical evangelical theology.

On LifeWay’s website the following further explanation is given:

We at LifeWay Christian Stores are dedicated to providing biblical solutions that spiritually transform individuals and cultures.

One way you can grow spiritually and intellectually is through reading. And whenever you read we encourage you to read with discernment, asking God to reveal His truth to you as you read…

At the time the warning bugged me enough to send me across the street with my money. It shouldn’t have. Now, I like the warning. I like it so much I wish it accompanied every purchase.

Just Say No…I Mean, Yes…I Mean, No

LifeWay warns Miller’s readers to exercise discernment because it believes his books to be inconsistent with historical evangelical theology in some way, yet instead of refusing to sell them, LifeWay chooses to profit from what it alleges to be heresy(ish). That seems a bit like Nancy Regan going into the crack business. “Just say ‘No.’ First one’s free.”

But more odd is how LifeWay is defining “historically evangelical theology.” Actually, I’m not sure how they’re defining it.

What definition both condemns Donald Miller as a heretic but approves the writings of Joyce Meyer and John Hagee?

What History?

It’s historical fact that Christianity was almost entirely led by pacifists for the first three hundred years of its existence. Should LifeWay then carry books written by soldiers, books endorsing America’s wars, books by Oliver North, for instance? I mean, I don’t have a problem with General Colonel North, who knows hundreds of ways to kill any man who has a problem with him, but Tertullian wouldn’t agree with the guy.

It’s historical fact that for most of Christian history individuals did not ask Jesus into their hearts or “accept Jesus.” Should LifeWay carry books and tracts that communicate personal salvation in such non-biblical non-historically Christian terms? Would home churches that existed before Rome’s building projects scratch their heads at books on institutional church administration as well?

Is “historical” Christianity the stuff that happened after Constantine…or after Calvin…or is it after D.L Moody?

And what historical evangelical theology is communicated by paintings of cottages printed on mousepads, and t-shirts that print scripture pulled from context across an American flag, or keychains or romance novels minus the sex?

Save Me From Myself

I was too hard on LifeWay. Or at least hypocritical. Anyone not exercising selective discernment may cast the first stone. Anyone?

Truth is we all do what LifeWay appears to be doing here. I do this.

I read certain books fearfully, prayerfully, critically while others get a pass. I breeze through them with my heart and head wide open and unguarded. This guy is dangerous. That one not so much. Because he thinks like me, I guess.

This assumes I think like God, or that God thinks like me – that I’m not a heretic, that I don’t need God to protect me from myself.

LifeWay’s right: We need a warning alright. And the one they distribute with some books is a pretty good one to start with. Maybe they should stick it in every book. Or, better yet, print that advisory on a massive banner and hang it outside every store:

We want you to know that everything in here might be wrong. Exercise discernment.

I’d like one to hang up at my concerts:

I want you to know that everything I’ll sing and say tonight might be wrong. Exercise discernment.

And one for my church:

We want you to know that everything taught and sung here today might be wrong. Exercise discernment.

And of course one for this blog:

I want you to know that everything I write might be wrong. Exercise discernment.

Everything. Not just Donald Miller. Because, well, is selective discernment inline with historical evangelical theology?

Categories: Featured Posts, None
Tags: Christian industry, church history, Donald Miller, LifeWay, marketing, non-violence, theology

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