To kick things off with this post, we’re just about to officially wrap up our Pledge It for the Sackett family. My initial goal was $5,000, and if I were honest, I actually didn’t believe we’d hit that when I put it together. At the time this post is written, we’ve collected $9,127 to help launch an education fund for Ethan, Tessa, Carly, and Grace Sackett following the passing of their mother, Susan.
I’m finding that I’m a pretty reflective and visionary person. I’m constantly thinking about what I’m up to (big picture) and where I’m going (huge picture). When I get into a slump or I get lazy, it’s often because I lose sight of the big picture. This post is primarily about running, but if you know me you’ll know it’s about much more.
The Silence After the Storm
I’ll admit that after the marathon, I got a little “flustered” (I guess you can say it that way). I resonated with what I was reading about depression, I quickly shifted out of my normal routines, I grew less motivated at work (don’t worry, my boss wouldn’t be learning that by reading this), and I didn’t know what to do with myself because I didn’t have a daily workout to check off or a race to prepare for. It was a weird feeling. I was tired of not knowing what’s next for me and running. And if I were quite honest, I was more disappointed in not qualifying for Boston than I think I led on to others.
Some people might think that’s kind of crazy. And for you, knowing you have a race coming up may be overwhelming. You’d be happy when it’s over. But I like it. I like to be pushed daily. I get bored if not. For running, I like to learn what I can and cannot eat while an hour into a run. What shoes take care of me and what socks give me blisters? How I can run more efficiently, knowing what to do to keep my heart rate low or not wear out my legs on certain terrain? The more I learn about running, the more I learn about what is possible—and how much more there is to running than just putting one foot in front of the other.
I believe that all of us need that healthy dose of being uncomfortable in order to keep us growing. Show up someplace where you don’t feel comfortable. Sign up for a community 5K. Visit someplace that you’ve never even heard of before (I have, and boy do I have a story to share about that). Try a new food. Listen to a new audiobook. Ride a rollercoaster, even if it terrifies you.
I Feel Uncomfortable
After the marathon, I went to Cedar Point with Kortney, her sister (Kiley), and her brother-in-law (Mike). We’ve been family for years now and about once a year I get the same question toward the tail-end of summer. “Jason, want to go to Cedar Point?” Every year I have either evaded the question or awkwardly answered, shooting down their dreams of screaming at the top of their lungs while their stomach shoots into their chests. I just don’t like rollercoasters.
To be honest, I process everything at the moment and it just makes it not fun. I think of everything that could go wrong (but seldom ever does). I make the feeling in your gut out to be much more than it is. And the list of excuses goes on as I would reply, “Nahhh… I’m not really into rollercoasters.” It not a big deal for most, but I said yes this year. We got tickets, we showed up, we rode a ton of crazy rides. I won’t pretend to have liked every second of it, because I was terrified. But I rolled with it and it was actually a lot of fun. I’d even go back…
I’m writing for my own sake, mainly because I’ve been learning a lot lately. Goals are a great thing, and it’s okay to experience a lull after achieving or completing something huge. You may even find that you’re ready for something bigger, something that you thought impossible before your first goal or lull (I’ll soon share the next crazy goal that I’ve got in the works). And not only are goals a good thing to keep you moving forward, but there are times when you’ve just got to embrace being uncomfortable because you’re growing. And I will add, “uncomfortable” is not the only word I’d use to describe how I felt when I was buckled into the rollercoaster—I was wondering if I had a change of pants packed in the car.
My friend Susan, who I update you on at the start of this blog post, reminded me before she passed that we can only take things in stride—one step at a time. She was talking in part about my marathon, but we both knew we were talking primarily about life. So my challenge is to think today about how you can stretch yourself and embrace feeling uncomfortable, whether it’s a big goal or just a small step. If you have something that comes to mind immediately, write it below to put a name to it.
That line above, “it’s pretty a pretty hard day and past week” is all that I wrote before I quit writing and closed up my laptop. I couldn’t put words to what I was feeling. Not only couldn’t I have at the time, but more than anything I don’t think that I wanted to at the time.
I had just come off a great weekend away. Kortney and I drove together up to Michigan and spent the 3-4 days skipping from place to place with almost no real plans—and I mean one morning we woke from our hotel and had to decide where we were going that day. We didn’t even have the next hotel booked. It was refreshing!
The trip away was for a number of reasons, most importantly we celebrated our ten year marriage anniversary and I had a marathon on Saturday morning. I’ll get to the marathon in a second, but you might be thinking, “Ten years and you didn’t even have a plan for your trip? Come on, Jason!” If you’ve been following along, you know that our last year has been completely insane. Aside from both of us going through job changes, we’ve also picked up and moved from our communities of friends. We had one move to an apartment, and we’ve recently purchased a home and moved once again—we’re still in the same jobs, but Alter’d Core, the studio where Kort works, is about to open their second studio location in Chagrin Falls! All that to say, the slow-going, unplanned trip is exactly what we needed. Especially with the marathon, the trip was almost like I got to take a big deep breath after holding it in for the last year amidst all the changes.
As enjoyable as that trip was for Kort and I, the marathon had multiple layers to it. At least a year ago, I had this September marathon on my radar for the sole purpose of qualifying for the Boston Marathon (spoiler: Registration for the Boston Marathon is happening right now, and I won’t be signing up but I’m at peace with that). I’ve ran marathons in the past and I knew I was minutes from qualifying, so I thought that this marathon in Michigan would be the one that got me my ticket to Boston. I was on a mission and all that mattered was running under 3 hours and toeing the line in Boston.
As I was training, I remember attending an all-staff event at work (I work at a church). And at the event, an individual shared about Susan Sackett, who was a coworker of mine at the time. Susan was diagnosed with ALS and the church was doing a great deal of work, even remodeling parts of her home, to support Susan and her family. That individual gave the microphone to Susan, who I could tell wasn’t in any way excited to be on a microphone or even center of attention. As I processed memories of Susan once walking passed me with a big smile on her face to now sitting in a wheelchair, Susan shared about her love for God and the faith that she had that Christ will be made famous through her story and her fight with ALS. She even mentioned attending some larger ALS events, on one side to help find a cure but at the same time to share Christ with others who are going through what she’s going through. I was blown away by the faith she had over fear.
When the mic was handed off, we transitioned to a time of worship before gathering around Susan as a team and praying for her. Throughout that time, I just remember hearing a call to “Do something to help, anything.” It was like a mosquito that wouldn’t leave me alone as I worshipped with the team. “Do something.” I had no idea what I could do, but my marathon came to mind and I wanted to find a way to make that about more than Boston.
After some research, I set up a Pledge It and was able to loop that into what CCC was doing to support the Sackett fam. It was decided that all funds would go to providing an education fund for Susan and Brady’s four kids, Ethan, Tessa, Carly, and Grace. It’s still open as I’m writing this and I’d encourage you to consider supporting the family if you haven’t already.
Wednesday before the marathon, Susan came to visit me at work to wish me luck for the marathon. Her dad, Jim, helped her make it in to see me. We talked about the marathon, and how she wanted to hear all about it as her family and my family walk together and talk about the race. She said a number of times that she wanted to meet Kortney, and she listened intently as I told her about what we actually did have planned for our trip. She gave me a sign that her kids made for my race before I asked her what else she had planned for the day. She said, “This is it. Coming to see you is my day. I’m going to go back and rest after this.”
Susan ended her battle with ALS and went to be with Jesus earlier this week. And when I say she went to be with Jesus, I don’t say that as a nice way of saying that Susan passed or that she’s no longer with us—I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is living, that the God of the Bible is real, that his promises are yes, and that Susan is with our Savior today.
Before Susan was admitted to the hospital, I texted her the results of the race. I missed Boston by 4 minutes, but this time I really didn’t care. Susan taught me and so many others what it looks like to run a great race and finish well.
I don’t want to write tonight. I don’t want to write in the same way that sometimes I don’t want to go out and run. On those days, it’s usually a mile or two into the run that I realize lacing up is exactly what I needed. I have a feeling this is going to be very much the same way…
We have had a lot of joys over the last few months. Kortney and I have had countless moments where God moved one thing here and another thing there, and presto we’re standing there jaw-dropped in amazement. I like to share those times because I’m someone who tends to celebrate joys more than I do sorrows (I think most of us are that way, but we all know folks who are quite the opposite). Speaking of sorrows, I had someone who I respect quite a bit “challenge” me one time as he mentioned that my life looks pretty good, from afar. He’s kept up with things that I share on social media and he alluded to me only sharing the pretty stuff in my life (and he wasn’t just talking about my better half).
But life has a lot of downs, doesn’t it? And I know that people reading this will immediately go extreme and begin to worry about me, especially with a title like this post has… but I’m simply calling out that there are hard times in life. Beyond social media, you may know that I process things pretty heavily. I’m a thinker. When people talk to me about something serious or strategic, I usually just take it all in quietly (quite the opposite if you get me joking around). What I’m getting at in all of this rambling — and probably the reason I don’t speak about serious stuff unless I know exactly what I want to say — my knee-jerk response is to share the fun, the loving, the redemptive but to internalize the stuff that isn’t polished, the stuff that is gritty, or the stuff that is difficult to talk about. Well, I’m mentally stewing on something this week and it isn’t fun at all.
A friend of mine unexpectedly passed away a couple of days ago. I’m not able to share details, but two things I’m learning from this is the spontaneity and the finality of death. About a week ago, we went to lunch together and laughed as we exchanged stories about our lives and our jobs. And just a couple of days ago, we texted back and forth about social media marketing. And the next day after texting that I heard of her passing. I hate how final the news of her passing is and, though I don’t think I’d change anything about the last time that we spoke, I walked away from that lunch assuming we’d catch up again another day. Death is heartless.
So while I apologize that this is a post weightier than others, I encourage you to not take for granted the times you see your friends, families, and loved ones. I’m as guilty as anyone but I beg you to put your phone down and listen when people are talking to you. Make time for others. And whether you’re spending time with your spouse, catching up with an old friend, or maybe even at work with new friends, challenge yourself to be in the moment as often as you can — life is made of moments.
Many young adults are abandoning the Christian faith, convinced that it’s an outdated and uneducated belief system. In this compelling address, Dan DeWitt counters these misconceptions and challenges us to think carefully about the choice between Jesus or nothing by comparing the Christian worldview to the notion of a godless universe devoid of true goodness and ultimate significance. This winsome book describes the rock-solid foundation for life that Christians enjoy in and through the gospel—offering an explanation for our existence, grace for our guilt, and meaning for our mortality.
Summary and Review
I am finding more and more how important a book like this is in today’s world. We just assume that America is “Christiany” and everyone, whether blindly or voluntarily, would claim to be a believer. Contrary to such a naive conclusion, atheism appears to be on the rise and Christians should be having conversations with those who would openly proclaim allegiance to Nothing — in other words, those who are non-believers. When is the last time that you spoke with a nonbeliever about your faith? Or about their lack of faith? If it has been a while it may be out of fear — fear of having the correct words to say or fear of understanding their own context. JESUS OR NOTHING will create begin that conversation for you. JESUS OR NOTHINGwill enlighten you to perspectives that you do not normally pick up on, or to stereotypes that others see you as. How do you go about showing non-believers that you are more than a pamphlet waiving, door-to-door salesman? How do you philosophically reason with someone who places reason in a field of relativity? These are important matters to consider, particularly if our main objective is to winsomely win folks to place their faith in Christ. This book is short and engaging. For those who find themselves in a context of unbelievers or for leaders attempting to better share the Gospel, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of this book.
“This book will challenge you to rethink how you view atheists and others who seriously question our faith, and it will leave you better equipped to point them toward the only One who can ultimately give meaning and hope.” —Kevin Ezell, President, North American Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention
“To be alive today is to be at the intersection of worldviews. Different worldviews compete for allegiance, but Dan DeWitt clearly demonstrates that there are really only two worldviews in constant conflict: theism versus nihilism. The superiority of the Christian worldview is demonstrated not only by its inherent truth claims, but also by the tragic inadequacy of nihilism. DeWitt sets the issue clearly in his title: it’s Jesus or Nothing. Any thinking person will benefit from reading this important new book.” —R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Life really does boil down to Jesus or nothing. Without Christ, we are left with relative morals, meaningless lives, and no hope. Dan is a learned theologian, but never arrogant or judgmental. He has a genuine compassion for those in search of truth, no matter how big or ‘dangerous’ their questions are. Jesus or Nothingis a book that matters, because its proposition is the ultimate matter.” —Josh Wilson, award-winning singer/songwriter
“DeWitt courageously takes us to life’s great intersection. There we find the atheist’s theory of nothing and the Christian theory of everything. Decision and destiny hang in the balance for all.” —Jack D. Eggar, President/CEO, Awana
“Jesus or Nothing is a little book about a big God. If you are a skeptic or a minister to skeptics, you should read this book about the God who is conspicuously there and who aims to reconcile sinners to himself through Christ.” —Denny Burk, author, What Is the Meaning of Sex?
“The truthfulness of the claims of Scripture matter, and those questions have been—and will continue to be—defended often. But another, more basic question matters as well: What is the value, meaning, and purpose of life without God? Dan DeWitt brilliantly demonstrates that the choice truly is Jesus or Nothing.” —Timothy Paul Jones, author, Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus
“Dan DeWitt knows his stuff. It is apparent that he’s familiar with everyone from Chesterton to Lewis to Schaeffer, not only in the ideas set forth in this book, but in his gentle, good-humored tone as well. In a culture where it can feel like Christianity is on the defensive, Dan reminds us that the gospel is beautiful beyond reason and completely reasonable.” —Andrew Peterson, singer/songwriter; author, The Wingfeather Saga series
“Citing everyone from Hawking to Chesterton, Dan shows not only the reasonableness but also the beauty of the gospel of Christ. Jesus or Nothing provides a concise and thoughtful resource for engaging secularists and academics in a city like Boston, where I live and minister.” —Bland Mason, Pastor, City on a Hill Church, Boston, Massachusetts; baseball chapel leader to the Boston Red Sox
“Jesus or Nothing will take you on a journey through the hope of the gospel and cause you to engage those seeking answers to life’s most important questions with grace and truth.” —Andraé Robinson, Pastor, Cornerstone Church, South Los Angeles, California
“Dan DeWitt artfully and accurately presents the big picture of one of the most important battles for hearts in our day. Atheism is often portrayed as the only intelligent worldview, but this book dispels the fog of that myth. I heartily recommend Jesus or Nothing to anyone struggling to sort through the shrill, confusing voices trying to tell us what matters most.” —Ted Cabal, General Editor, The Apologetics Study Bible
“Jesus or Nothing addresses the question that believers and nonbelievers alike are afraid to ask—‘What if I’m wrong?’ In an increasingly post-Christian context, Dan contrasts these two worldviews and guides the reader to the exclusive foundation for human flourishing found in the gospel.” —Andy Frew, singer/songwriter; Worship Pastor, Crossridge Church, Surrey, British Columbia
“The ultimate human question has always been that of meaning—the meaning of life, the meaning of death, the meaning of everything. Dan DeWitt reminds us again that meaning is always and necessarily grounded in God, and God is known only through Christ in the gospel. Apart from him, all pleasure, success, and happiness that may (or may not) come your way ultimately adds up to nothing. Biblically solid and culturally aware, DeWitt weaves together references to Pascal, Toy Story 3, Richard Dawkins, John Lennon, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to argue that there are only two roads: the gospel or emptiness, Jesus or nothing. Accessible and enjoyable works on apologetics that are also richly thought provoking are a rarity; Dan DeWitt manages the task beautifully. This book will encourage and challenge many.” —Grant Horner, Associate Professor of Renaissance and Reformation, The Master’s College; author,Meaning at the Movies
“Dan DeWitt paints a beautiful portrait of Jesus with all the strokes of a fine painter. Jesus or Nothing shows us how to engage our skeptic friends in the grandeur of a story unique and true. DeWitt’s personal enjoyment is etched throughout the painting, exploding with the reality of Jesus and the truth of the gospel. This is a recommended read for all who want to reveal the awesome beauty of Jesus to those who are choosing Nothing.” —David Clifford, Events Manager, Desiring God
About the Author
Dan DeWitt (PhD, Southern Seminary) is the dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses on worldview, philosophy, apologetics, and C. S. Lewis. Russell D. Moore is the Dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He also serves as a preaching pastor at a local church. He is the author of several books including Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches. He and his wife Maria have four sons.
The Bible implores us to take a long look at Jesus, forcefully beckoning us to “come and see” through profound questions connected with Jesus’ death and resurrection. These questions drive us to consider not just the events themselves but also their meaning as we take a long look beneath the surface and find more of the never-ending treasures of Christ. In Captivated, Thabiti Anyabwile invites you to set aside your early lessons on politeness and stare (yes, do stare) into the mystery of the cross and empty tomb.
Table of Contents:
1. Is There No Other Way? (Matthew 26:42)
2. Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:45-46)
3. Where, O Death, Is Your Victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55)
4. Why Do You Look for the Living among the Dead? (Luke 24:5)
5. Do You Know These Things? (Luke 24:17)
Author Thabiti M. Anyabwile is senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Pastor Anyabwile and his wife, Kristie, have three children.
“This little book is a wonderful guide for those who would like to ‘stare’ for a while at the meaning of Christ’s suffering and resurrection for His people. It is a great resource both for new believers wanting to learn more about the crucifixion as well as long-time saints who want a fresh perspective on familiar events. Be prepared to understand your Bible better and love Jesus more after reading Captivated!” — Mike McKinley, senior pastor of Sterling Park Baptist Church, Sterling, Virginia, and author of Passion: How Christ’s Final Day Changes Your Every Day
To begin with – I have never read nor heard anything from Thabiti before now… and many of you who are here because he is the author of this text probably just gasped. As I journeyed through his writings I found that I could sit and “listen” to him all day (whether it be listening audibly or reading his written word in a book). He is very unique and anybody who has spent a great deal of time with him, even if it be in his books, will most likely agree with me when I say what makes him so unique — It seems as though Anyabwile has great difficulty getting through a single sentence without mentioning the Gospel. It is as if every opportunity that he has to write or speak is just soaked in the death and resurrection of his Savior, Jesus. And that is what makes him writing a short book like this so good. It is because he is not trying to be or do anything that he is not. Thabiti is just wrote a short book, asking wonderful questions, and allowing the Scriptures to proclaim the glory of God and the power in the cross and Christ.
I think that the chapter headings and the idea of approaching the cross from the ever-popular questions that he asks is wonderful. We are a generation that wants answers and his attempt to set up the question and respond according to Scripture is fitting. I categorized this in Christian Living but I could also put it in “Academic” or even “Theology” because he deals with some weighty issues.
So, the organization of this book is wonderful. The chapters are short which makes the topics approachable. And the content is easy to read yet thoroughly researched. I would encourage folks to pick up this book for a detailed understanding of Jesus’ death and resurrection — for both the purpose of the cross and the results of the cross. This book is great for new believers and each chapter ends with questions of reflection and digging deeper.
Thanks to CrossFocused Reviews for providing me with a review copy in order to get to know the book and share my opinions unbiasedly.
“I’M TOO BUSY!” We’ve all heard it. We’ve all said it. All too often, busyness gets the best of us.
Just one look at our jam-packed schedules tells us how hard it can be to strike a well-reasoned balance between doing nothing and doing it all.
That’s why award-winning author and pastor Kevin DeYoung addresses the busyness problem head on in his newest book, Crazy Busy — and not with the typical arsenal of time management tips, but rather with the biblical tools we need to get to the source of the issue and pull the problem out by the roots.
Highly practical and super short, Crazy Busy will help you put an end to “busyness as usual.”
“I’m a fan of Kevin DeYoung’s writing, partly because I know what to expect. He’s always clear, biblical, and to the point—with a good dose of humor peppered in. Crazy Busy is no exception. It’s a quick and engaging read that busy people can find time for. DeYoung helped me think about the heart issues behind my busyness, and even gave me some practical ways to fight it. As a pretty busy guy, I encourage other busy folks to squeeze this little book into their schedule.” —Trip Lee, hip-hop artist; author, The Good Life
It is maybe not a coincidence whatsoever that the author of the book JUST DO SOMETHING has published a book on the subject of overdoing it. Crazy Busy is what the sub-title says that it is, the book is a relatively short text about a very large issue with many Christian leaders in the church today (and I’m not just talking about pastors and professors). If you are a leader, you most likely share qualities of DeYoung. You’re driven (to exhaustion); You’re sacrificial (without hesitation); You recognize problems that need fixed (and neglect to address your own problems); You please people (often forgetting The Person that needs pleased); You seek accomplishing tasks (because pride doesn’t allow you to accept how others work).
I know, not all of those descriptions fit you but I would guess that if you are a leader than a majority of them just might. DeYoung admits that this book is contrast to the message of other contemporary reads that seek to get believers off of the pew and into the streets. This is for those people recognize that the work/mission is GREAT and have an issue with resting while evil is still on the move. DeYoung presents his readers with ten chapters that challenge us to put our pride in check and live for our Creator rather than for those around us. DeYoung begs us to prioritize our number one priority, Jesus Christ.
1. Hello, My Name is Busy
2. Here, There, and Gone: Three Dangers to Avoid
3. The Killer P’s—Diagnosis #1: You Are Beset with Many Manifestations of Pride
4. The Terror of Total Obligation—Diagnosis #2: You Are Trying to Do What God Does Not Expect You to Do
5. Mission Creep—Diagnosis #3: You Can’t Serve Others without Setting Priorities
6. A Cruel Kindergarchy—Diagnosis #4: You Need to Stop Freaking Out about Your Kids
7. Deep Calls to Deep—Diagnosis #5: You Are Letting the Screen Strangle Your Soul
8. Rhythm and Blues—Diagnosis #6: You’d Better Rest Yourself before You Wreck Yourself
9. Embracing the Burdens of Busyness—Diagnosis #7: You Suffer More because You Don’t Expect to Suffer at All
10. The One Thing You Must Do
I have not read DeYoung’s other books. I do not even recall dipping into any articles or blogs that he has written up. That said, I will make it a point to spend time getting to know him. There is a great amount of transparency in DeYoung’s writing. He doesn’t allude to being an expert on the issue (and even outright admits his struggles) and appears to write for his readers, not for himself. He wants to see the change, the transformation, in Christ’s Bride.
I had no issue whatsoever in getting through Crazy Busy. The easiest way to describe this short book is that DeYoung is a straight-shooter who approaches the relevant topic of busy-ness with a perspective that is (very)biblically grounded. I would say that pastors that rush from task to task, from stress to stress, and have not wrestled with the REASON behind their crammed schedules are (yes, I am not just running at the mouth and I mean what I’m sharing next) sinning. They are misrepresenting Jesus Christ (our hope and perfecter and sufficiency) to a world people. We have got to maintain ourselves, our relationships, and our integrity at the micro-level (in our homes and our churches and our workplaces) if we expect to see lives changed.
I feel like I’m rambling or beginning to get preachy – but the bottom line is that there is a need for people to people (believers and non-believers alike) to assess their priorities. DeYoung rightfully calls his readers to slow down and revisit the Cross in order to put life in order.