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Here are tenets from Colson's life on how believers should treat one another in the political world.

The Chuck Colson Guide For Christians With Differing Political Stripes

Over the last few days, I have been digging into the life of Chuck Colson via his memoir, Born Again. The story of Nixon’s former hatchet man turned follower of Jesus has been extremely timely and a blessing during this contentious political era. 

Of particular note in the lessons one can learn from Born Again and Colson’s life is how believers of differing political stripes should treat each other. I don’t know if Colson would give this exact list or not, but looking at his life, I am being challenged by what I think is his guide for the life of politically inclined believers: 

Jesus Above State

And it’s not even close. If you are forced to pick between modeling Christ and upholding political parties or the state, you pick Christ, hands down, every time. I think there are leniencies when it comes to the majority of policy platforms (while there is a Biblical basis for certain things, I see Scripture twisted on both sides of the aisle constantly in an attempt to “get Jesus on their side”). But at the end of the day, you serve Christ, not government or partisanship. That is the foundation for how Christians must approach politics. 

Brothers and Sisters Above Party

You have more in common with a brother or sister in Christ that doesn’t share your politics than unsaved people who are in your political camp. We succumb to tribalism easily – the kingdom of God MUST come before the kingdom of American politics. One of the most inspiring things about Colson’s life was the bipartisan circle of men who set aside politics and agenda advancement for the sake of Christ. They differed in policy but fervently prayed for one another, prioritizing the good of the others, even if it hurt their political plans. THAT is the kinship that the body of Christ should cling to, politics be damned. 

Disagree Without Being Disagreeable

Unity within believers does not mean pretending like there are no personal disagreements (or in this case, political disagreement). The difference is in HOW you disagree. You stay kind, you stay compassionate, and you realize that policy is policy – people are much more important. 

Keep The Partisan and the Personal FAR Apart

And when you’re politically disagreeing, you NEVER combine the partisan with the personal. If you’re to attack a policy, you attack it on facts, you argue on merit – you do NOT attack the brother or sister advocating the policy. This is a good rule in general, but of utmost importance within the politically active body of Christ. 

Abandon Politics Before You Abandon Christ

Finally, you ALWAYS abandon politics before you abandon Christ. If you can’t avoid being sucked in by the tribalism, if something is damaging your witness, if it is becoming an uncontrollable idol, if it is separating you from Christ, you LEAVE. Abandon it for a week, a month, a season, forever. Whatever it takes. 

While Christians should be kind and Christlike towards everyone, believers who vote and advocate differently than us can present unique challenges. I have been very challenged by the life of Colson this week – will you wrestle through these tenets alongside me?

My Top 5 Wellness Hacks

It’s not a secret that an overwhelming amount of Americans have health-related resolutions. Whether that be weight loss, gym time, drinking water – whatever it is, someone has committed to it (and probably already broken down by now). 

You’re not going to see me writing for goop or Well + Good anytime soon, but for several years I’ve tried to lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. Here are 5 hacks you can steal that help me get there: 

1. Don’t Force Yourself To Do Exercise You Hate

Don’t read what I’m not saying – I’m NOT saying that you should always avoid a hard workout. What I am saying is that if you’re continually forcing yourself to do a type of exercise that you despise, you’re going to have a hard time maintaining it in the long-run. I have hard power yoga workouts, hard lifting sessions, and hard boxing rounds just like I used to have hard runs. The difference? I love the first three and that motivates me to power through – I HATE running. 

2. Write Down What You’re Eating

This is harder than it sounds to keep up, but it’s one of the best mindfulness and accountability tools I rely on. Whether you’re using a program like Noom, tracking your macros, or simply keeping a food journal (I’ve done it all and turn toward different things in different seasons), it will keep you honest. And, it will help you identify gaps. Need more water? Vegetables? Fruits? Eating out a lot more than you thought or picking up junk food frequently? Now you’ll know. 

3. Have A Backup Plan

On an ideal day, I would be hitting the gym at 5:15 am for a workout class or at 6:45 am for a lifting session. In reality, if I’m not signed up for a class that will ding me if I miss, it’s a toss-up whether I get that early workout session in. And that’s okay – I’m working to prioritize sleep as a key part of my health and well-being. Instead of stressing, I always have an alternative plan. Maybe that means I’m working out at home; maybe that means reserving both a morning class and an evening class and knowing I’ll make it to one of them. Whatever it is, don’t let a missed alarm derail you – have a plan B. 

4. Keep A Cute Waterbottle Around 

This is so cliche it hurts, but so effective it can’t be left out. If you have a water bottle you like looking at (for me it’s my sticker-covered Hydroflask), you’ll be more likely to lug it around with you and drink enough water during the day. That, and you’ll be less likely to leave it places. 

5. Decide Your Food “Musts” and “Passes” 

This varies by season, but it’s helpful to create food indulgence rules. For example, I know that I am never going to go to a party or celebrate a birthday where there is great dessert and not eat some – doing so would feel like deprivation and these are uncommon enough events that it is totally worth it to me. On the other hand, I will always pass on soda and drinking my calories, and rarely bring home cheap desserts. I know what my indulgence musts are, and I know what I can pass on, and while I don’t always stick to these rules, they’re very helpful in the long-run. 

Are you going to try one of these in 2021? Or do you have tips of your own? Tell us in the comments!

Fight For The Lovely, Now More Than Ever

At surface level, there’s not a lot that’s lovely or beautiful surrounding us as we begin 2021.

A global pandemic.

Well-documented racism and corruption. 

Seditious actions and a political sphere in turmoil. 

Division, anger, hostility. 

What’s lovely about that? 

It’s easy to succumb to the gloom and fury that are thrust upon us during this time by our friends and family, our digital landscape, and the media. But now more than ever is the time to resist succumbing to those things, and instead, to fight for the lovely. 

A well-known passage of Scripture, Philippians 4:8 (emphasis mine) outlines the things that should be sought out in this world: 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” 

It makes sense that these things are not easily seen – we live in a fallen world that is broken beyond belief and corrupted by sin. If we want the lovely, the true, the pure, the just, it must be FOUGHT for. 

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) recently admonished, “Don’t let nihilists become your drug dealers.” His comment is spot on. This world wants to suck all the joy and meaning away from life, leaving nothing but brokenness. We must push back. 

Fighting for the lovely looks like being kind to your neighbor, even when (especially when) you disagree.

Fighting for the lovely looks like a refusal to allow the agenda of the political class and the media to dictate your life, your joy, your priorities. 

Fighting for the lovely looks like ordering your life according to what really matters – God and people. 

And yes, fighting for the lovely expands to include the grim fight against the abuses of people that break God’s heart. Fighting for the lovely is the fight for justice, for dignity, against abuse and corruption. But loveliness brings happy warriors to these fights, not bringers of gloom and doom.

We are not called to just lay down and accept the darkness of the situation. We are called to be light. We are called to seek the lovely. That is exactly what we must do – now, more than ever.

Rebuilding Stronger in 2021

I’ve had two words on my letterboard for the last couple of weeks: 

“Rebuild stronger.” 

(Actually, right now it reads, “Rebuild sronger.” My sister pointed out that I was tired when I spelled it out and missed the t, and have yet to add it. Full disclosure.)

Each glance at those two words is encouraging. Why? Because 2020 broke me, broke us down in every way possible. But in 2021, we can rebuild even stronger.

I always pick a word or phrase to return to over the next year, and “rebuild stronger” is what I’ve picked for 2021. It would be easy to simply say “rebuild” and to work on returning the status quo. But what if that isn’t where we need to return?

For all the atrocities it has contained, 2020 has done a very good job of making all flaws, whether in our personal lives or our society, exposed. It has ripped down a curtain, exposing everything that was not serving us well and all the areas where change should be encouraged. And 2020 in its very essence will alter the way work and life and community function in the future. 

2020 broke us down, but we shouldn’t be rebuilding back to 2019. Instead, we should take a good long look at what life looks like right now and what it should look like at the end of 2021. 

What habits and practices no longer serve you and should change? What does your workflow need to look like? Your wellness routines? Your financial management?

How should your spiritual rhythms and habits be rebuilt to urge you more toward Jesus in the new year? 

Psalm 71:20 says, 

“You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.”

We have been broken, but revival and restoration are around the corner. It’s time to rebuild and to rebuild stronger. 

How will you rebuild in 2021?

It's Not Too Late For Advent

It’s Not Too Late For Advent

Do you ever refuse to start something if you can’t start it from the very beginning? I’m like that in a lot of ways, and that list used to include Advent. 

I’d think about it about halfway through the season every year and set it aside. The liturgical element didn’t seem complete without the fullness of all the days leading up to Christmas. I figured I would try to get it next year. 

And then the next year. 

And the next. 

And the next…

Finally, the year I looked at my calendar in time and stepped into the season with an aim toward intention, thoughtfulness, and slowing, I realized what I missed out on for all those years. The fullness of Advent can be found in even a few days. 

Ann Voskamp writes in The Greatest Gift (my favorite Advent devotional), 

“If, just for a moment, you stand in the doorway, linger a bit in front of the tree, it’s strange how you can see it – how every Christmas tree is a ladder and Jesus is your ladder who hung on that Tree…so you can have the gift of rest. When you are wrung out, that is the sign you’ve been reaching for the rungs. The work at the very heart of salvation is the work of the very heart of Christmas: simply rest.” 

And later,

“Stars will come in the night sky, shimmer somewhere. Advent will keep coming, this love story that never stops coming. Love like this could make us wonder. Somewhere, carols play.”

If we refuse to let ourselves step into Advent imperfectly, we ignore the purpose of Advent. To come, be with our God. To slow for a season. To remember for a season. To see things through His eyes for a season. 

C.S. Lewis once said, 

“When the year dies in preparation for the birth 

Of other seasons, not the same, on the same earth, 

Then saving and calamity go together make

The Advent gospel, telling how the heart will break. 

Therefore it was in Advent that the Quest began.”

If you haven’t been remembering Advent, or if you have still been rushing through this season, it’s not too late. It’s not too late to read back through the Old Testament and everything it said about Jesus before his birth. It’s not too late to sit on the couch, stare at the Christmas lights, slowly sip a cup of coffee, and simply let yourself think. It’s not too late to embrace this season with intention. 

Because isn’t that the truth we cling to in Jesus? That even at our worst, his birth meant it wasn’t too late for humanity to return to and be saved their God? Advent is time dedicated to rest in that truth – lean in.

Words from Ephesians 5 for Thanksgiving 2020

But Instead Let There Be Thanksgiving

What passage from Scripture makes you cringe? I’ll give you one of mine – the word “cringe” is even scrawled in the margins of my Bible next to it:

“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” 

-Ephesians 5:3-10, ESV (emphasis mine) 

Wow. I find myself swallowing a little harder every time I read this passage. There are so many places where I have partnered with the dark in my own life, and it often seems innocuous enough that I don’t even see what it’s doing. 

But while this is a weighty passage and reveals a lot about what Jesus followers let slip into the cracks of their life, there is a part that has always struck me as an odd choice to include. Read back through the above passage. See what I bolded? 

In the midst of commands to get rid of sin, a seemingly oddly placed command is given: “…but instead let there be thanksgiving.” 

At first glance, it seems like an odd shift from speaking about sin, to urging thankfulness, back to speaking about sin. But when you think about this, it actually makes a lot of sense. Have you noticed that when your life is full of joyful gratitude, the dark lure of sin fades a little? 

I find it extremely hard to praise God for a beautiful morning and then curse my neighbor the next second. 

There’s a weight of conviction that comes when you praise the goodness of God with a family member and then slip right into a conversation laced with jokes that make it look like you don’t know him. 

A universal truth is that one becomes what they behold. Behold the goodness and glory of God constantly, and your life will start to align with his. And, from this passage, I think another truth can be implied: You’re drawn toward what you meditate upon. 

Think deeply about what makes your heart grateful and watch yourself be pulled away from dark lures toward the light of Christ. 

This Thanksgiving, turn toward Jesus and strive to put aside the sin that clings so closely. Instead, let there be thanksgiving. 

The 5 Stages of a Social Media Detox

Social media impacts the mind the same way a slow I.V. of poison impacts the body. 

At least, it does for me. 

Whether social media has such an obvious negative influence on you or not, I think everyone benefits from a social media detox. I regularly try to step away from social media for a day or two a week for my own sanity, but my brain and soul need a longer detox at least once or twice a year. 

If this isn’t something you’ve done before, let me walk you through the five stages that come with a social media detox: 

RELIEF

After the buzzing happening on Facebook and the fighting happening on the dumb bird site and the overhyped and overfilted life posted on Insta, deleting apps from your phone will feel like RELIEF. Suddenly, the political conversations you have will happen in person (and hopefully with a lot more civility). You can live in a moment instead of taking photos of it. People will just have to compliment your new look IN PERSON. Anonymous trolls would have to do a lot more to get your attention. The relief feels good. 

ANXIETY + EXCUSES

This is the most difficult part of a social media detox, and it highlights the very reason why you start one. The timeline is different for everyone, but it sets in at some point: A slight buzzing anxiety that you’re missing something, which leads to ridiculous reasons why you should log back on. Power through, it gets better. 

TWEETING IN YOUR MIND

If anxiety and excuses are the most difficult part of a social media detox, this is probably the most humorous part. This is the point where your brain starts coming up with incredible social media content. Seriously – I have come up with my best tweets before remembering that I couldn’t post them. I have taken amazing photos that didn’t end up on Insta. This too shall pass. 

SURPRISE

I love the moment when you realize that you’ve been off social media for a while and for the last few days…you HAVEN’T MISSED IT. It takes a while, but that surprising realization feels good. You recognize that you don’t need it, and it doesn’t need to dictate your day. 

PEACE

And finally, the best stage of a social media detox: peace. When the notifications stop coming, when you’re not constantly reaching for your phone, when the anxious twitching and longing for false connectivity fades away. The goal of a social media detox is not to simply step away – it is to reset. To reset with less dependency on your devices; with a clearer head; with a calmer heart; and with a better focus on Jesus. 

Let this be your encouragement to step away from social media for a bit – it’ll feel weird, but it’ll be great in the end.

Retrospect shows how God was working for good all along.

Retrospect Is My New Best Friend

I’m a planner. I think things through. I’m not a fan of abrupt life changes. 

So I had to laugh at myself when one year ago, I resigned from my stable job, said goodbye to friends, packed a moving truck, and left Missouri to move back to Iowa. When I got to Iowa, I had a temporary political gig waiting for me. (Side note: this ended up being some of the most challenging work of my life and while I was very happy to say goodbye to it, I’m glad for the growth.) I didn’t even have housing lined up – good thing my parents like me enough to have me stay with them for a few weeks. 

All things considered, the entire move seemed like something I wouldn’t choose to do. But there have been a few times in my life where I have clearly felt the Lord guiding my choices, and in the weeks leading up to the move, His voice was clear: 

“You need to be near your family. You need to be closer to the friends you’ve known for years. You need to leave your comfort zone here.” 

I listened. Through the chaos of the move, the frustration of house hunting, the hard days of work, and the hours I spent on the road away from home for said work, I hoped that God had a purpose in me uprooting my life. 

Retrospect has become my new best friend because, without it, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the goodness God displayed in guiding my steps. 

I had no way of knowing that God was going to provide a house that would be more of a home than my little apartment in the city. A home that would see more tears, more joy, and more fellowship than that apartment ever did. 

I had no way of knowing that a global pandemic would sweep the world. I didn’t know that my family members would be the only people I would meet with in-person for months and that doing that would have been impossible if I still lived out of state. 

I had no idea that I needed to be close to my family for the storms we would weather. From health issues to hardships, physical proximity allowed me to be there for my family in a way that texts and calls never could have replicated. 

I had no clue what wonderful work and opportunities God had lined up. That my rescue dachshund’s separation anxiety would lessen after he became best friends with my sister’s dog. I didn’t know that God had a church community lined up for me, one where I could grow deep roots of fellowship. 

What seemed like chaos and hardship at the time was God’s design for goodness in my life. Retrospect allows me to praise Him for that. His ways are not our ways. 

What has God done in your life that you can fully appreciate now? Take some time to reflect – He’s working for good even when we don’t fully see it.

Kelvey's book picks from quarter three of 2020.

The Quarterly Reading Roundup: 2020 Q3

2020 is somehow both crawling and flying by. I think I blinked and the last three months elapsed. But that means that it is time for my quarterly reading roundup! 

Here are my picks from quarter three of 2020: 

CRAZY RICH ASIANS TRILOGY BY KEVIN KWAN

I was skeptical before I started the first book in this trilogy, but they ended up being fantastic. Kwan transports you into a different culture, one that rattles all our American assumptions about the rich and powerful. Packed with cultural insight, witty commentary, plenty of detail, and eye-rolling dialogue, these fast-paced books are some of the best fiction I’ve read all year. 

ORTHODOXY BY G.K. CHESTERTON

I like the way Chesterton’s mind works. This beautiful, imaginative work paints Christianity in a way that makes the heart, mind, and soul run wild. Below is a quote I loved from the book, one that summarizes the grand perspective Chesterton held: 

“That a good man may have his back to the wall is no more than we knew already, but that God could have His back to the wall is a boast for all insurgents forever. Christianity is the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete. Christianity alone felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point – and does not break.”

SEVEN WOMEN BY ERIC METAXAS 

Metaxas is one of my favorite biographers, and his Seven Women did not disappoint. These seven, chapter-length biographies cover everyone from Joan of Arc to Rosa Parks. I finished the book inspired and having learned a lot about these seven remarkable women. 

What is the best book you’ve read lately?

You calendar could be your new favorite tool.

Why Your Calendar Could Be Your New Favorite Tool

When I was in college, the calendar on my iPhone raised some eyebrows. It perfectly color-coded and divvied up my life, from waking up and heading to the gym in the morning to getting ready for bed at night. It allowed me to make sense of all the homework, classes, work schedules, and social events that I was juggling. 

After I graduated, my weekly schedule got much more predictable. I wasn’t juggling multiple jobs and classes anymore. My work schedule was the same every day, and most events in my life happened on a weekly or regular basis. So, I abandoned my color-coded calendar. 

It wasn’t until the last few weeks that I brought it back. COVID-19 took away any regular routine I had for a very long time, and I was left floundering. Even now, with some of my schedule returning to normal, working from home and adapting to this pandemic way of life has taken away a lot of the external rhythms and routines that allowed me to function regularly. 

So, I brought my iPhone back out and plugged my week in. 

When I was heading to the gym. 

When I was writing. 

When I had appointments.

When I had meetings.

When I was working. 

When I had church gatherings. 

It all got entered back in. 

And you know what? I realized that I missed having this tool in my life. 

People who like flexibility may protest trying out a calendar habit like this. It may seem like it’s too rigid to allow for freedom. But having things laid out so clearly actually provides a lot more flexibility. 

You can move things around as you need while still  knowing that everything is accounted for and written out. You can meet a friend and know you’re not missing a meeting. You can schedule out convenient times to run errands because your calendar shows you where you’ll be and when. 

I thought that when I was out of college, I wouldn’t need a calendar like this anymore. But in getting rid of it, I got rid of my favorite tool. Life is a lot better with having such a clear-cut schedule back at my fingertips, and if you don’t already do this, I would suggest you try it out. 

You may just find it’s your new favorite tool.