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. 

The other morning I was meditating on Matthew 16:1-12 and stopped after Jesus said, “…beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” It’s not unusual for my scripture reading to lead me into journaling. My entry for that day was:

“You have to be careful, or purposeful, as to who you listen to and allow to influence you. Pay attention to a person’s tone, their focus, their emphasis. Do you want to be like that? Maybe you do, maybe not. This does not mean we shelter ourselves from those we disagree with, everyone can teach us something. But if I listen too much to those who are angry, judgemental, legalistic, or prejudiced…there is a good chance that I will become that way. What type of person was Jesus? What type of person does my Jesus want me to be? Find people like that. Read people like that. Listen to people like that. Expose yourself to the rest, but only listen to, really listen to, only allow yourself to be influenced by those who you want to be like. And it is probably helpful to once in a while ask Jesus, “What kind of person do you want me to be?“

I have some Facebook friends, well to be honest, most of them are more acquaintances than actual friends. Ellen and I moderate a rather large Facebook group page made up of pastors, so we have many friends, semi-friends, and absolute strangers. Some are ‘stranger’ than others. There is one who stands out, I will call him…Pastor Bummer. I have called him other things but I don’t want to give you a heart-attack so let’s just leave it at Pastor Bummer.

Pastor Bummer is always correcting others, challenging others, irritated with those he disagrees with. Pastor Bummer, or so it seems, feels he alone knows what is orthodoxy and what is heresy. I know far more about what Pastor Bummer is against than I do what he is for. If someone in my group posts something that PB disagrees with it is impossible for him to ignore it and move on. Nope…PB has to try and set the person straight. PB has no respect for or patience with anyone who thinks differently than he does. Unfortunately, Pastor Bummer is not alone.

I don’t want to be that kind of Christian. Do you? I bet not. If so, then be careful about all the PBs out there because they can rub off on you.

What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of person do you think Jesus wants you to be? Hang out with those types, read those types, listen to those types, be influenced by those types.

Sometimes our leaders fail us and sometimes we fail our leaders. In Matt.10 and Lk.10 I discovered five common ways some pastors fail their leaders.

(Matt.10:1) Jesus gave his leaders authority. We fail our leaders when we don’t give them authority. It can be disheartening when a leader feels that their pastor is constantly looking over their shoulder and puts them on a really short leash rather than a long one. Sometimes it’s hard for pastors to let go, especially if they are delegating a responsibility they have been doing. Sure, when leaders start out they will make mistakes, they probably will not do as good a job as the pastor would. But think about it, none of us started out as good as we are now.

(Matt.10:5) Jesus instructed his leaders. We fail our leaders when we don’t instruct and train them. Recently on my group page a pastor was frustrated with some leaders who weren’t doing a good job. The first thing that popped into my mind was “What training and equipping did they receive before being released into leadership?” In my experience of working with pastors, leadership training and on-going leadership training is often absent.

(Matt. 10:5-6) Jesus prioritized their mission. We fail our leaders when we don’t help them prioritize. First, they were to go to “…the lost sheep of Israel.” The Gentiles would get their chance, but first things first. A common weakness I run into with pastors is a failure to prioritize, and when this is the case it is no wonder that they will not pass this skill on to their leaders. Knowing what is the most important task of their ministry, and then the second most important, and then the third, is not something that comes naturally for all leaders.

(Matt.10:16-23) Jesus prepared his leaders for hardship. We fail our leaders when we don’t prepare them for hardship and disappointment. It’s not unusual for new leaders to be all excited about their new assignment but it doesn’t take long for reality to beat that positive attitude down. The ministry would be great if it wasn’t for people, but being a leader means being with people and people mean disappointment.

(Luke 10:17-24) Jesus took the time to debrief and celebrate. We fail our leaders when we don’t check-in, follow up, debrief…and rejoice together around the small and large victories they’ve experienced while carrying out their ministries. Leaders need to hear from us, “What worked well? What didn’t work well? How could I have been a better help to you? Is there anything you might do differently the next time?” And remember, there is always something to celebrate, when you find what it is…celebrate it!

The Misunderstood Pastor

“That’s not what I meant!”

Have you ever said that or thought that? I know you have, I certainly have. It’s frustrating to be misunderstood especially when it causes others to be hurt or offended. 

Pastors are always talking. We talk from the podium. We talk at meetings. We talk when giving advice. We talk one on one. We talk before groups. We’re always talking, it’s what we do. And this isn’t necessarily bad (although we all could probably benefit from talking less) it’s just that the more you talk the more likely is it that you will be misunderstood. 

There are a number of reasons why misunderstanding happens.

1. Sometimes we’re misunderstood because we haven’t taken the time to think through what we’re about to say. 

2. Sometimes we’re misunderstood because people hear through their own particular filters and these filters can distort our original intent. 

3. Sometimes we’re misunderstood because words can have a different meaning to different people.                                                                                             

4. Sometimes we’re misunderstood because our facial expression, body language, or tone, interfere with what we’re trying to say.

Here are four ways to reduce misunderstanding.

1. Think before you talk and ask yourself these two questions: 1) In what ways might what I’m about to say could be misunderstood? 2) Are there any ways in which what I’m about to say could be made more clear?

2. This will only work with the one-on-one communication, but ask the person to repeat back to you what they heard you say.                                                         

3. Pay attention to any facial expression, body language, or tone that might sabotage what it is that you are trying to say.

4. Don’t forget to ask the Father to help you become a better communicator.                                                       

Questions for Reflection:

1. Of all the different ways you communicate which one is most likely to be misunderstood?                                                                                                      

2. When was the last time you were misunderstood and what could you have done differently?

3. Once you realize you have been misunderstood, what is the best way to correct it?                                                                                                               

4. Is there anyone in your life currently that is misunderstanding you and what could you do about it? 

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