Keith Simon

Author Archives: Keith Simon

Love Languages: The Good and The Bad

Everywhere I look it seems that I run into someone carrying around one of Gary Chapman’s books on Love Languages. There are plenty to choose from and it seems that he’s left no demographic untouched. There are Love Language books targeted at adults, teens, children, singles, and men. There’s a Love Language devotional, small group

Marriage Advice That’s Practical…And Biblical

I love it when social science affirms what we find in the Bible if for no other reason than it gives me confidence that the Bible is God’s Word to us. If the Bible is true, and of course I believe it is, then we should expect to see it accurately describe the world we live in. So I was glad Charles passed on to me an article on marriage research that appeared in The Atlantic last year. The author, Emily Smith, writes about the research done by psychologists John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute in New York.

A team of researchers brought in thousands of couples to participate in a longitudinal study in which they initially measured physiological differences in couples while engaging in conversation with each other about their relationship. Six years later they checked back in with the couples to find out how their marriages were doing. Based on the data gathered, the Gottmans separated the couples into Masters and Disasters. The Masters were those couples in a self described happy marriage and the Disasters were the couples who were either no longer together or in chronically unhappy marriages.

When it comes to marriage, what determines whether you are a Master or a Disaster?

A Modern Day Parable

It shouldn’t be surprising that some of the most popular parts of the Bible are Jesus’ parables. After all the stories are interesting and the spiritual truth they convey profound. In Sunday’s New York Times, Sam Polk, a former Wall Street trader, shared part of his personal history. It’s a story that I would classify

8 Questions That Help Me Know If I’m Growing Spiritually

newtonbookcoverIt seems like I should be able to determine relatively easily if I’m personally growing spiritually but it isn’t as easy as you think it should be. What exactly should I be looking for in my life? For so many people the indicators of spiritual growth are only focused on behavior. Now of course our behavior is incredibly important to God but when that is the only consideration, we neglect our heart which is where our motives and loves spring from.

I recently finished Tony Reinke’s book Newton on the Christian Life; a book that will almost certainly be on the short list of best books that I read in 2015. Even if you’re not familiar with Newton, you are definitely familiar with his most famous hymn: Amazing Grace. After leaving the slave trade, Newton became a pastor in Olney and later London. While his sermons are rather ordinary, the hundreds of personal letters he wrote are exceptional. They are quite literally treasure troves of spiritual wisdom, pastoral care, and pictures of grace.

Reinke does a great job of surfacing some of Newton’s treasures and helping the reader personally benefit from it. In one section he shares Newton’s marks of a maturing Christian. While this list is hardly exhaustive, it does a good job of probing our heart and helping us see areas of our life that we might need to grow in. After each mark, I included a question(s) to further help me discern where I am spiritually.

Trump vs. BLM Showdown: What Can Christians Learn?

You don’t win many people to your side by telling them they’re wrong and you’re right.

You won’t win many to the pro-life cause by calling those who disagree with you “baby killers.” Crisis pregnancy centers that come alongside women with unplanned and often unwanted pregnancies are far more persuasive.

The same goes for politics. I don’t know any Republican or Democrat who changed party loyalties due to being berated by a co-worker. But when political parties address issues that concern us, we are open to listen.

Arthur Brooks writes about an unlikely meeting of social and political foes. On September 16, 2017, a group of President Trump’s supporters squared off on the National Mall with Black Lives Matter of Greater New York (BLMNY). There was the usual shouting of slogans promoting their cause and denouncing the other side, but then something unusual and instructive happened.

2017’s Book List: Better Late Than Never (Hopefully)

It’s been my habit to post the best books I read in a given year. I decided to not do such a list for 2017 but, much to my surprise, several people have asked for it. I enjoy looking through other people’s end of the year book lists so it only seems fair that I return the favor and post my own.

 

A few notes…

  1. These books weren’t necessarily published in 2017. It’s just the year I read them.
  2. I don’t read many books that I’d place in the “Christian Living” category. My reading tastes tend toward theology, history, biography, current issues, and novels.
  3. My criteria are very subjective. I enjoy well written books that teach, challenge, or entertain me.

These were my favorite books in 2017.

What Should You Say To Your Kids About Terrorism At The Ariana Grande Concert?

As people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert on Monday, May 22nd in Manchester, England, a bomb went off killing 22 people and injuring another 59. The British authorities have identified Salman Abedi as the suicide bomber. ISIS has claimed responsibility. Intelligence services are investigating.

Unfortunately, we are no longer shocked by stories like this. There have been similar ones in the past and no doubt there will be more in the future. This incident got my attention because so many of the victims that have been identified are young kids and their moms. I read that some of the victims were moms waiting to pick up their daughters after the concert.

Because Ariana Grande’s fans are typically younger and because of the pervasiveness of social media, I think it’s reasonable to believe that most American kids have heard of the bombing even though it happened in England.

That raises the question: “What should I tell my son or daughter about an incident like this?”

“I Am Nothing”: A Reflection on Rhonda Rousey’s Comments

In May of 2015 both Sports Illustrated and Business Insider named Rhonda Rousey the “world’s most dominant athlete.” She owned an impressive resume: the first U. S. woman ever to win an Olympic medal in Judo (Bronze, 2008); consistently one of the top three ranked judo champions in the world before moving into mixed martial arts; a UFC record of 12-0 with 11 wins coming in the first round and 9 of those via submission by arm bar. It wasn’t a huge surprise when she became the highest paid UFC fighter male or female.

But then, in November 2015, she suffered her first lost when Holly Holm knocked her out. In an interview on The Ellen Show shortly after that devastating loss she said, “I was literally sitting there and thinking about killing myself and at that exact second I’m like, ‘I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? And, no one [cares] about me anymore without this.'”

5 Signs Of A Deserving Attitude

When I was about 10 my grandfather had a massive stroke while boating at the Lake of the Ozarks. I ran up the hill to call the ambulance that took him to the local hospital which then life flighted him to University Hospital in Columbia.

The doctors’ prognosis went from likely death to spending the rest of his life in a nursing home with 24 hour care. My grandmother was old school, depression era tough and she ignored the doctors and took her husband home. For 20 years she devoted herself to taking care of his every need. She sacrificed her well being, her freedom, her relationships for him.

When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer in his early 70’s, the family hoped that after his death my grandmother would finally get the opportunity to travel and and live the life she’d been deprived of the past 20 years. She’d finally get some of the good things she deserved.

Unfortunately as my grandfather died, my grandmother was diagnosed with advanced cancer and she was almost immediately bed ridden and then dead herself.

Members of the family were frustrated that God had allowed this cancer to come so soon and take her before she was able to live a little. She deserved better.

4 Questions For Personal Examination

Are you asking (and answering) the right questions? I was sitting in a coffee shop with a group of guys that I regularly meet with and we came up with a list of unhelpful questions that people ask themselves.

  • Is this fair?
  • How can I get more?
  • Don’t I deserve better?
  • How do I compare to _______?
  • Why did this happen to me?

Each of those questions causes us to think more and more about ourselves. I’m tired of thinking about myself, aren’t you? And the Bible is pretty clear that being self focused leads to unhappiness.

In her book Seated With Christ: Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison, Heather Holleman gives 4 questions that Christians should be asking themselves. I found them to be very helpful.

4 Hard But Great Questions