struggles“We are living for Likes, but we’re longing for love.” In his latest offering Craig Groeschel explores our desire to be connected with others in the ever-growing world of social media. He shares many stories from people who truly are living for “Likes,” whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other outlets.

Some have become so engrossed with our smart phones we have developed a condition called nomophobia – the fear of going without your phone. The author spoke with a number of focus groups made up of young adults who share their struggles with being overly engaged with their phones and devices. Groeschel even shared a personal story of a time he has struggled with being without access to his phone.

Through the book he shared various statistics and stories that point to an obsession with social media engagement. In one chapter these numbers about Facebook were given: “Currently the average American Facebook user has 338 Facebook friends. But surveys indicate that the average American has only two friends they consider to be close. As shocking as that statistic is, I think one is even sadder: 25 percent of Americans today say they have zero close friends.”

While the author (and this reader) admit that there are many advantages we enjoy with smart phones, social media and other communication opportunities, it is easy for those things to become too important to us. Groeschel shares various passages of scripture and practical steps we can take to keep things in balance. Some are as simple as unplugging for 5 minutes each day, determining times when the phone is off-limits and putting filters and other restrictions on our phones. Some are “drastic” as deleting certain apps or unplugging altogether, if necessary.

In an appendix in the book, Groeschel provides The Ten Commandments of Using Social Media to Grow Your Faith and Share God’s Love. With humor, engaging stories and statistics and practical insights, Groeschel offers a timely book that is not just beneficial to the individual reader, but would also be effective as a small group study. The #struggles are real and there is some good advice to be gleaned from this book.

Altar Ego

Altar_Ego_Series_-_Art_Preview_587x327My wife attended a Catalyst One Day event last spring with her church staff and heard Craig Groeschel speak. I have heard him on LifeChurch.tv and on some podcasts, but haven’t heard him live. She enjoyed his speaking style and was encouraged by what he said, so I got her a copy of Altar Ego. Since we share a Nook library, I had access to the book and finished reading it this week.

I’ve read Groeschel’s book, Chazown, and appreciate his straight forward writing style. He is transparent about his own failures and how God uses him despite his past. This is a big part of his writing in Altar Ego.

His encouragement in this book is to become who God says you are. In one of the early chapters, he makes the point that we are God’s masterpiece and are called to do His good works. I thought this phrase was pretty powerful: “You have everything you need to do everything God wants you to do.

Through scriptures and stories from his life and others, Groeschel encourages the reader to become the person God says each of us is. I appreciated how he tried to made practical application to anyone who might read this book. At times he spoke to parents, to kids, to college students, to single moms, to men, to women, all in attempt to bring some practical steps to becoming the person God has in mind for each of us.

If you like straight forward writing, mixed in with humor (and occasional sarcasm), while pointing back to God’s Word, you should pick up Altar Ego.


I know I am behind the curve on this one as there are many people already taking advantage of this tool, but Lifechurch.tv offers an online Bible tool called YouVersion.

I started using it this week to help me read through the Bible in a year. You can access several different reading plans and versions of the Bible. It will track your progress and will even send each day’s reading through as RSS feed or to your phone.

Craig Groeschel is the lead pastor of lifechurch.tv that provides the tool. I have been listening to some of his podcasts and he encourages those in attendance to read the scriptures from the Bible they brought or access it on their phone. Good way to keep people connected to scripture.

If you are looking for a reading plan to help keep you on track, YouVersion might be for you.


At different times in teaching, I have handed out note cards and have asked students to write their own epitaph, to put on paper what they would want said about them at the end of their lives.  Not necessarily the most cheerful way to kick off a lesson, but in essence, that is how Craig Groeschel comes out of the gate in his book, Chazown. In fact the first sentence of his book says this, “Most people take a long time to die.”

His purpose is not to be morbid, but to challenge the reader to consider the end of his or her life and thus provide motivation to make the decisions now that will impact how one’s life will be remembered.

Chazown is the Hebrew word for vision.  In his book Groeschel offers a challenge to live by our God-given Chazown and he also provides readers with tools to discover and live out that vision.

Throughout this writing he encourages a posture of asking God and listening to what He has to say about what His vision for our lives is.  While it is different for each person, Groeschel offers a process each individual can go through to help pinpoint God’s vision for his or her life.

He uses three circles; one circle representing your core values, another representing your spiritual gifts and a third which representing past experiences.  Where those three circles converge is where a person can identify his or her Chazown. It is a good visual to help people identify the vision God has for each one of us.

The rest of the book lays out what he calls the “Five Spokes of Chazown.”  Those are the chazowns (or “little c’s”) that apply to all Christ followers.  As we are obedient to God in the areas of our relationship with God, our relationship with people, our finances, our health & fitness and our work, we are able to live out our individual Chazown (“big C”).

One phrase that Groeschel uses throughout the book in various ways is this: Everyone ends up somewhere, but few people end up somewhere on purpose.” He applies that phrase to each of the Five Spokes and at other times throughout the book.  He continually underlines that we don’t achieve much accidentally; it is only as we focus on key principles and practices that we can achieve God’s purpose for our lives.

The book provides opportunities to stop and answer questions, to journal and consider the three circles and the five spokes.  It lends itself to both personal reflection and group discussion.  It is broken down into short sections that provides the reader opportunity to think about one particular area before moving to another.

While set up in an easy to read fashion, Groeschel provides plenty of principles and practices to challenge readers to apply what he is trying to communicate.  Chazown can help you identify what God’s vision is for you or help you celebrate and elevate the God-given vision you are already living out.

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.”  Check out an excerpt of Chazown

3 Temptations of the Emerging Generation

Before you get too far into this post, I don’t have a real clear handle on how to describe generations and changes.  Some people talk about the emerging church and sometimes our labels can lead to more confusion than clarity.  By emerging, simply think of the generation that is currently in their teens, twenties and even early thirties.  At some point in all our lives, we were the emerging generation.  At some point, too, we just get called “old.”

Back on point…I have been listening to podcasts from Craig Groeschel who is senior pastor at lifechurch.tv.  I’m in the midst of his third message, but have been thinking about what he talked about in his first message of this series.  He spoke primarily to the emerging generation and identified three temptations he believes apply to this generation of teens, twenties and early thirties.  He did say that these are his opinion, but I think he is on target and would like others thoughts on it.

Briefly, here are the three temptations as he sees them:

1. Temptation to Feel Entitled. We have a lot of “stuff” and one thing the emerging generation faces is the sense of entitlement.  In a world where everything is new, it creates an expectation of having that same standard of living throughout life.

Great thought on this:  we have a good life and feel like we deserve it.  When things go bad, we blame God because we feel we deserve it.  God doesn’t get the glory when things are good, but gets the blame when things are bad.

2. Temptation to Define Truth as We See It. We have been taught that there is no thing as absolute truth, so truth is defined by whatever makes me happy.

Love this illustration on this idea of judging things on how we feel.  Sin is like a sneeze.  It feels good coming out, but then there is snot everywhere. Great picture, wouldn’t you say?

3. Temptation to Postpone Adulthood. He referred to one person’s research on when people consider themselves as adults.  The primary answer was when they had a child.  So, until someone actually has children, he or she is not considered an adult.  Postponing adult can lead to postponing the roles and responsibilities that we equate with adults, in life, in the workforce and in the church.

That is a brief overview of his thoughts, but I have seen all three at work where I live.  Would be interested in other thoughts on this as well.

He is not bashing the emerging generation, but rather pointing out some obstacles young believers will face.  What is great is that he then challenges every generation to rise up and be the people God has created us to be.