About 15 years ago I began to collect quotes from books I had been reading that were particularly meaningful to me. I now have two volumes of such quotes. I call them, “My black books of quotes.“ because they are handwritten in…well, black books. One day I hope to publish these quotes as a special gift that I give to people who are special to me.

You can tell a lot about a person by the quotes they pass on. And you will, no doubt, learn some things about where I am coming from and what is important to me based on my quotes.

My plan right now is to post 8 to 10 special quotes each week that seem pertinent to the times in which we are living. These are quotes for chaotic times. I suggest that you read them slowly and prayerfully and see which one speaks to you the most and listen for the voice of the Spirit asking you what next steps you might take in response.

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The older I grow, the more I listen to people who don’t talk much. (Germaine Glien)

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They are either speaking or preparing to speak. (Steven Covey)

Life for too many leaders is a blur of activity and planning, with sparse occasions for reflection, replenishing, rejoicing, and responding to the relationship the Lord is inviting them to experience and enjoy with him. The urgent crowds out the essential. Doing ignores being. Developing skills becomes more important than shaping character. (Transformational Coaching)

I think the chief reason why we have so little joy is that we take ourselves too seriously. (Thomas Merton)

Speaking of the many distractions we face when attempting to pray, Henry Nouwen said, “Our inner life often looks like a banana tree full of jumping monkeys.“

We can gradually step beyond our need to judge others and our inclination to evaluate everybody and everything. (Henri Nouwen)

Imagine your having no need at all to judge anybody. Imagine your having no desire to decide whether someone is a good or bad person. Imagine your being completely free from the feeling that you have to make up your mind about the morality of someone’s behavior. Imagine that you could say, “I am judging no one!“ Imagine…wouldn’t that be true inner freedom? (Henry Nouwen)

The desert fathers believed that simply not speaking is a very important practice. Too often our words are superfluous, inauthentic, and shallow. It is a good discipline to wonder in each new situation if people would be better served by our silence then by our words. (Henry Nouwen)

The ‘Walk a Mile in His Moccasins’ quote is often contributed to various native American tribes, but it actually comes from a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. Lathrap, was an American poet, preacher, suffragist, and temperance reformer. For 20 years, she was identified with the progressive women of Michigan. The original title was Judge Softly.  

Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,  Or stumbles along the road.  Unless you have worn the moccasins, he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.

Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And its only wisdom and love that your heart contains.

For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.

I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.

Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and me.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.

In David P. Gushee’s ground breaking book: After Evangelicalism: The Path to a New Christianity (2020), the author’s research identified fifteen reasons why people are currently leaving the church. 

1. People leave churches to go to other churches.

2. Some leave because their faith in Christ has faded or lost salience. 

3. Some walk away because they are burned out from too many years of service. 

4. Some drift off to other weekend pursuits. 

5. Some leave because they got their feelings hurt. 

6. Some quit because they must work all the time or have complicated personal lives. 

7. Some abandon ship because they are tired of church conflict. 

8. Some leave for silly reasons. 

9. Others leave for reasons peculiar to the American evangelical experience. Those reasons begin with disillusionment over teachings that are viewed as harmful to the vulnerable. Some leave over the harm LGBTQ people and their families have experienced. 

10. Others leave over patriarchal teachings. 

11. Some leave over the damaging effects of purity culture. 

12. Others leave over white evangelical racism. 

13. Some say: all of the above. 

14. People are also leaving evangelical churches over reactionary attitudes toward science and liberal learning, over anti-intellectualism and theological rigidity, over the inability to deal with honest questions or anything other than all-happy-all-the-time faith, and over the identification of evangelical faith with conservative/Republican politics. 

15. The most embittered are leaving evangelicalism in a state of trauma, reporting their evangelical experience as one of abuse or violation. 

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David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and past President of both the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Kingdom EthicsChanging Our Mind, and Still Christian.

About 15 years ago I began to collect quotes from books I had been reading that were particularly meaningful to me. I now have two volumes of such quotes. I call them, “My black books of quotes.“ because they are handwritten in…well, black books. One day I hope to publish these quotes as a special gift that I give to people who are special to me.

You can tell a lot about a person by the quotes they pass on. And you will, no doubt, learn some things about where I am coming from and what is important to me based on my quotes.

My plan right now is to post 8 to 10 special quotes each week that seem pertinent to the times in which we are living. These are quotes for chaotic times. I suggest that you read them slowly and prayerfully and see which one speaks to you the most and listen for the voice of the Spirit asking you what next steps you might take in response.

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When I am alone, Jesus is with me at once. (Thomas Merton)

I am therefore not completely human until I have found myself in my African and Asian and Indonesian brother because he has the part of humanity that I lack. (Thomas Merton)

You must realize that it is the ordinary way of God‘s dealing with us that ideas do not work out speedily and efficiently as we would like them to. There are always not only good reasons but the very best reasons for the delays and blocks that often seem to us so frustrating and absurd. Obstacles have a meaning. (Thomas Merton)

It is, unfortunately, so easy and so usual simply to compare the dark side of someone else’s church with the bright side of one’s own. (Thomas Merton)

Let us be very careful and faithful about avoiding everything that makes the wounds of division bleed more. (Thomas Merton)

There comes a time when it is no longer important to prove one’s point, but simply, to live, to surrender to God and to love. (Thomas Merton)

For the last 10 years I have had a policy of not speaking publicly about my personal opinions in regards to controversial topics that Christians and churches disagree on. The reason I have held this policy is that I believe God has called me to be a peacemaker. I have never wanted to alienate myself from others because of our differences but rather join together around those things that we have in common and do my small part in attempting to unite the divided church. My approach has worked well for me over the last decade but I’ve had a growing sense that the Lord wants me to be more open and transparent.


Not too long ago someone left my Small Church Pastor group page on Facebook that Ellen and I moderate, and private messaged me saying the reason he was leaving is because our group is “obviously a welcoming and affirming group” in regards to LGBTQ+ Christians. I have previously had some people leave the group because of this assumption. I tried to assure this pastor that our group page is neither affirming or non-affirming. The purpose of this group is to be a place where these differences are not discussed, but our similarities in Christ are what unite us. To my dismay, the pastor still left the group solely because he believed I might welcome and affirm LGBTQ+ Christians. My public position on this subject has been intentionally vague, because the issue is so polarizing and divisive within my group. I feel God is asking me to stop being vague about it.


In my thirty years of pastoring (I retired from pastoring in 2006), I have always held the traditional Evangelical non-affirming position. However, after many years of studying the scriptures and listening to both sides of the same sex marriage debate and LGBTQ+ issues, if I were pastoring a church today, it would be a welcoming and affirming church with no restrictions for gay Christians’ involvement in the life and ministry of the church. I came to this position many years ago. This is not a recent development.

  
Recently, I had the opportunity to appear on the 200churches podcast to share the story of changing my position. If you want to know more details of my journey and how I, as an Evangelical pastor changed my mind, go to, https://www.200churches.com/podcast.html and look for: Season 2 Episode 01 – Deep Love In Spite Of Differing Doctrine with Dave Jacobs.

Your friend, Dave.

About 15 years ago I began to collect quotes from books I had been reading that were particularly meaningful to me. I now have two volumes of such quotes. I call them, “My black books of quotes.“ because they are handwritten in…well, black books. One day I hope to publish these quotes as a special gift that I give to people who are special to me.

You can tell a lot about a person by the quotes they pass on. And you will, no doubt, learn some things about where I am coming from and what is important to me based on my quotes.

My plan right now is to post 8 to 10 special quotes each week that seem pertinent to the times in which we are living. These are quotes for chaotic times. I suggest that you read them slowly and prayerfully and see which one speaks to you the most and listen for the voice of the Spirit asking you what next steps you might take in response.

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The people to whom we minister and speak will not recall 99% of what we say to them. But they will never forget the kind of person we are. This is certainly true of influential ministers in my own past. The quality of our souls will indelibly touch others for good or for ill. So we must never forget that the most important thing happening at any moment, in the midst of all our ministerial duties, is the kind of persons we are becoming. (Dallas Willard)

We must guard against listening without hearing, and responding without thinking. (Thomas Merton)

When can substitute thinking with the secretion of clichés. (Thomas Merton)

My Lord God, I have no idea where I’m going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. (Thomas Merton)

The one who has drawn you to begin will guide you as you go along. (Robert Benson)

Jesus does not call you to be successful, but to be faithful. (Mother Teresa)

It is far more likely that we do not recognize God‘s presence in our lives than it is that he is not present in our lives. (Frederick Buechner)

About 15 years ago I began to collect quotes from books I had been reading that were particularly meaningful to me. I now have two volumes of such quotes. I call them, “My black books of quotes.“ because they are hand written in…well, black books. One day I hope to publish these quotes as a special gift that I give to people who are special to me.

You can tell a lot about a person by the quotes they pass on. And you will, no doubt, learn some things about where I am coming from and what is important to me based on my quotes.

My plan right now is to post 8 to 10 special quotes each week that seem pertinent to the times in which we are living. These are quotes for chaotic times. I suggest that you read them slowly and prayerfully and see which one speaks to you the most and listen for the voice of the Spirit asking you what next steps you might take in response.

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A servant can never know how much patience and humility is within as long as everything goes well. It is in sudden testings that our “treasure” is revealed. (Saint Francis of Assisi)

It is your duty often times to do what you don’t want to do, and your duty to leave undone what you would like to do. (Thomas A’ Kempis)

When we genuinely believe that inner transformation is God’s work and not ours, we can put to rest our passion to set others straight. (Richard Foster)


There is the service of guarding the reputation of others or, as Bernard of Clairvaux put it, the service of “charity.“ How necessary this is if we are to be saved from backbiting and gossip. The apostle Paul taught us to “speak evil of no one.” We may clothe our backbiting in all the religious respectability we want, but it will remain a deadly poison. There is a discipline in holding one’s tongue that works wonders within us. (Richard Foster)

One must get along without the security of neat and simple, ready-made solutions. There are things one has to think out, all over again, for oneself. (Thomas Merton)

Silence is the mother of speech. (Thomas Merton)

Those who enter into conflict with others do so because they do not know how to enter into spiritual combat with themselves. (Jeremy Driscoll)

About 15 years ago I began to collect quotes from books I had been reading that were particularly meaningful to me. I now have two volumes of such quotes. I call them, “My black books of quotes.“ because they are hand written in…well, black books. One day I hope to publish these quotes as a special gift that I give to people who are special to me.

You can tell a lot about a person by the quotes they pass on. And you will, no doubt, learn some things about where I am coming from and what is important to me based on my quotes.

My plan right now is to post 8 to 10 special quotes each week that seem pertinent to the times in which we are living. These are quotes for chaotic times. I suggest that you read them slowly and prayerfully and see which one speaks to you the most and listen for the voice of the Spirit asking you what next steps you might take in response.

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In our dealings with one another let us be more eager to understand those who differ from us then either to refute them or press upon them our own tradition. (William Temple, archbishop of Canterbury, 1881-1944)

Humility is more important than zeal. (Thomas Merton, 1961)

Crisis does not so much build character, but reveals character. (Russ Ikeda, 2006)

What God demands of me may make me look less perfect to others, and that it may rob me of their support, their affection, their respect. (Thomas Merton 1962)

The best thing I can give to others is to liberate myself from the common delusions and be, for myself and for others, free. (Thomas Merton 1968)

Life is like a vise, at times it will squeeze us. At those moments of pressure, whatever is inside will be found out. (John Maxwell)

Self righteousness is the plague of those who seek God. (Jan Johnson)

We often think God is using us to reform the world when it’s only a matter of our wanting to ventilate our opinions. (Jan Johnson)

Both the ‘open-minded’ and ‘close-minded’ demonize one another. This represents a closed-mind no matter which group is doing the demonizing.

Being ‘close-minded’ does not mean you will never change, it just means you will be less receptive to change than the one who is open-minded.

It’s dangerous to be open-minded because if you are, you might change your mind and that might get you into trouble with the close-minded.

Being ‘open-minded’ does not mean you don’t have strong convictions. It means you are willing to challenge those convictions and listen objectively and respectively to those who do not share your convictions.

Close-minded people don’t think they are close-minded, they think they are right. Open-minded people do think they are open-minded… and they think they are right. This can indicate a closed-mind regardless of who is doing the thinking.

Being ‘open-minded’ can be a slippery-slope…but that’s no guarantee that you will slip.

Do you know anyone who you would describe as close-minded? Do you know anyone who you would describe as open-minded? Are you more open-minded than closed-minded? Is it clear to you what you need to be close-minded about and what you need to be open-minded about?

by dave jacobs

The temptation in pastoral work is to react instead of reflect.

Suddenly there is a fire to put out, a problem to solve, a person who needs correction. The urgency of the situation fires like a starting pistol and we leap from the block rushing towards the finish line. 

Sometimes the situation is not so urgent as it is familiar. We’ve been there before and assume that our response in the past will work in the present. 

Francois Fenelon, in a letter to his nephew, had this wise word of advice for those who lead others.

“Do not be over-hasty, but learn from God, in peace and silence, what it is He wishes you to do and then, in all simplicity, do it. You will then see that things which appear to be of momentous importance will diminish in size and those of little or no importance will be recognizable as such and thus you will be, by God’s grace, enabled to achieve without hesitation a balanced outlook.”

Some things demand immediate action but most are not as urgent as we might think. The cautious seldom make mistakes while the over-hasty often do. Learn to reflect before you react. 

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