Come to the Living Water

This summer, The Austin Stone Institute released Foundations of Faith: Cultivating the Christian Life through Study and Practice, a book designed to nurture our relationship with God and with one another. Spanning 10 sessions, this book seeks to introduce—and reintroduce—us to some of the beautiful, essential truths that define who Christians are and how they ought to inhabit the world. As pastor J.T. English notes in his book Deep Discipleship, “Discipleship is not just a program but a total reorientation to reality. We begin to see who God truly is, who we are, what God has done, is doing, and will do in the world. In being reoriented to reality, disciples begin to view everything through a God-centered lens.”[1]

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A Perspective on Residency

“What do you love? What does our world need? If you could do anything, what would you do?”  John Mark Comer, Garden City

Three years ago, these questions had me stumped. They forced me to put words to my life’s purpose – my calling – and that’s not just an answer you arrive at overnight. I had to excavate what my calling was. And while I knew that I loved my church and talking about Jesus, that felt like a far cry from an actionable calling, much less a career. But then I joined The Austin Stone Residency Program, and those answers became a lot easier to discern. 

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True Freedom: Living in God’s Word

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. – John 8:32

 

Freedom is a state of reality that every human heart needs to experience. When we are free, we are liberated from the oppression and power of another. While countries and world powers fight for their citizens to experience the beauties of freedom, we know there is a greater battle for freedom being waged all around us.  Read More



4 Tips to Make the Most of Summer for Kids

Parents, you did it! You made it through another school year and summer is here! Goodbye crazy morning routine, goodbye homework, goodbye strict schedules and helllllllooooo freedom! But we all know how summer goes. The first few weeks are like bliss: camps, relaxed schedules, visits to the pool, vacation, trips to grandma’s house, etc. But then as the summer goes on and all fun trips are over, it is 1000 degrees, the pools all feel like hot bath water, and before we know it school starts back up again and we wonder if we wasted it. As you enter into summer this year (after all it has been since 2019 that we had a “regular summer”) here are 4 simple tips to help you make the most of your family’s summer. Read More



Embrace a Growth Mindset

I loved school when I was a kid. The first day was almost as big as Christmas to me. There were fresh, new school supplies perfectly organized inside the pencil bag stored within my very cool TrapperKeeper. For those that didn’t grow up in the 80’s a Trapper Keeper is basically an accordion-pocket filing system with velcro and, in my case, unicorns. It was a must-have for kids who thought they may be asked to clerk for a judge in addition to their math assignments that day. Read More



5 Simple Practices to Notice God’s Presence Every Day

Poet Mary Oliver writes, “The real prayers are not the words, but the attention that comes first.” Philosopher Walter Benjamin expresses a similar sentiment. “Attention,” he says, “is the natural prayer of the soul.” Either the poet or the philosopher may sound scandalous, but they raise valid points. How often are prayers spoken by rote? How many times has God seemed distant or absent? Could the issue be, not the words spoken to God—although those are important—but the attention given to Him? Read More



Pursuing Hope, Faith, and Purpose in 2021

It’s a good bet that 2021 is the most eagerly-anticipated year in this young century. I don’t know a single person who is sad to see 2020 become a memory. It was a hard year, and I daresay none of us want to relive it. But as the calendar changes and we enter a new year, we must face the challenge of moving beyond 2020 and stepping into 2021 with a renewed sense of hope, faith, and purpose. I’d like to suggest three steps that may help us prepare for the coming year. Read More



What Does Dignifying Politics Look Like?

Political tension in America is not new. Polarization, anger, and hostility have, to some extent, been part of our politics and culture for centuries. In the presidential election of 1800, for example, Thomas Jefferson’s supporters accused John Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” Adam’s advocates responded just as vulgarly, calling Jefferson a “mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” However, the state of our public discourse seems particularly poor today. Overwhelmed by social media and the 24/7 news cycle, many Americans—including some Christians—aren’t sure how they should navigate the treacherous political waters of our time. This begs the question: What does Christlike political engagement look like? How can we dialogue with others in a way that honors God? Read More



When Will Your Church Be Back to Normal?

As I type this, my teenage sons are in the next room, and I can hear them laughing and talking. They are on Zoom calls with their youth group from our church. In the midst of this Coronavirus pandemic, they are finding a way to connect, to hear the Word of God, to be discipled together. I am wiping away tears from my eyes, but I don’t quite know why. Partly it’s because this reality is unbelievably sad. And partly it’s because the despite-of-it-all nature of the church is unbelievably beautiful.

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5 Ways to Care for Minority Team Members

As a Black person, working alongside a majority white staff at a majority white church with a white supervisor can sometimes be extremely difficult. This can be due to a number of things, including a general lack of awareness about the Black experience in America or neglecting to ask for Black people’s perspectives. There are also personal pressures—the cranking out of excellent work in a season of collective trauma for the Black community can be exhausting.

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