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
*The following is an excerpt by Jake Riddle from Doctrines & Disciplines, which serves as the curriculum workbook for The Austin Stone Development Program. Applications for the 2021-2022 ASDP program are now open. To learn more about this program or to apply, visit www.austinstoneinstitute.org/asdp
The Christian life is a forward progression of becoming increasingly more like Christ. When God the Father called you and saved you, several things happened that you were probably completely unaware of at the time. The Holy Spirit breathed new spiritual life into you. He gave you faith.
You then, by faith, confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. You believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. The faith that was given to you by God united you to God. The stain of sin was forgiven and completely removed. The righteousness of Christ was imputed to you. A legal declaration was pronounced over you—not guilty! And that is when the forward progression of Christlikeness began. Read More
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
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
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
One of God’s great gifts that often goes un(der)appreciated in our “productivity is king” culture is that of slowing down, of the beauty of waiting and listening to something other than our own ambitions. Sometimes the reminder comes as a gentle nudge during a time of prayer. In other seasons, it’s an enormous loss—a job, a dream, a life—that shakes us from the day to day long enough to still our souls. This year, of course, it was a planet-stopping, routine-remaking pandemic that forced us to reconsider, well, everything.
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
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.
In the past couple of years, The Austin Stone Institute has grown from a single development program (The Austin Stone Development Program) and a residency program to an entire ministry seeking to train leaders in many different ways, from written resources and seminars to classes and new development programs. In many ways, we’ve been in the startup stage of the business lifecycle. We have—and still are—constantly trying new things and adapting to feedback and input from those we minister to.
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.