Encourage each other through the storm…

Hi Reader,

Welcome to Living Contentment – your weekly nudge towards a life of Biblical contentment.

Here are today’s three contentment-related things for you to

read | do | pray


Last week we looked at how the storms of life are not a sign that God has left you, but maybe what will bring you closer to him.

The last few days have felt like there have been a lot of storms hitting people around us.
Sudden life-altering medical diagnosis.
Unforeseen injuries.
Struggles that

But I realized in the midst of all this there is always hope – at least for those who weather the storm on a solid foundation.

Sharing those stories of hope is an encouragement to the rest of us.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are not alone in our struggles. Sometimes we need to remember there is a community seeking God’s living contentment.
Often we need to be told of the ways God has stepped into the lives of others. Stories of rescue and healing.
But also stories of presence and peace in the midst of tragedy and loss.

Contentment is going to stay far off when we convince ourselves we are the only ones in a storm. Discontentment is the result of thinking this particular storm we are in – is hopeless.

So….Living Contentment community….let’s come together


HIT REPLY, and let me know a specific way God has seen you through a difficult time.

How have you seen God step into the middle of a storm to get you?

Where has the solid foundation of Christ supported you through something that seemed impossible to survive?

When have you experienced a Peace that truly exceeds all human understanding, when you were able to live contently in the middle of a storm?

I’ll collect these stories and share them (anonymously) with all of you in the Living Contentment community next week.

(make sure you let me know if you DON’T want your story shared)


God of Peace,
You have made us for you
and made us for community.
Help us to encourage each other,
as we retell of your power, love, mercy, and grace.
Remind us of your consistent, loving presence in our lives.
Thank you for how you rescue us from the storm,
and for the times when you sit with us in the middle of it.
Help us see your power and goodness in both.

Talk to you next Thursday!


The Storm is not the problem

Hi Reader,

Welcome to Living Contentment – your weekly nudge towards a life of Biblical contentment.

Here are today’s three contentment-related things for you to

read | do | pray


Jesus tells a story about two people who build houses. One builds on solid rock, and the other – apparently with an affinity for beach views – builds on sand.

It’s easy to skip to the end of the story and learn the lesson that we should build our lives on Christ. He is our solid foundation.

But don’t skip the storm.

Which house gets hit by a storm?

They both do.

Building on Christ doesn’t mean you won’t face the storms of life. However, it means they will not be your ultimate demise.

Storms are unwanted, destructive things. You didn’t ask for them. You don’t want them. But they hit you anyway.

Don’t confuse the presence of a storm with the absence of God.

Being in the midst of a storm doesn’t mean that God has abandoned you. In fact, it may be the thing that will show you how much he is with you.


What storm of life has taken away your contentment?
Either right now – or in the past.
Can you look at it through the eyes of faith to see how God was/is still with you in the midst of it?
Can you see how having God as your foundation is the way through it?


Father of constant, stable, unending love,
You are with us through everything.
The times we see you,
the times we doubt you are there,
the times we’re quite sure you’ve left.
Remind us of your presence.
Give us glimpses of your kindness.
Help us see you are there,
even when the storm threatens to block our view of you.

Talk to you next Thursday!


Slow down there…

Hi Reader,

Welcome to Living Contentment – your weekly nudge towards a life of Biblical contentment.

Here are today’s three contentment-related things for you to

read | do | pray


You can still get a free copy of my soon-to-be-released book on the life of Peter simply by recommending Living Contentment to a friend.

…now….on to this week’s newsletter…


In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things:
noise, hurry, and crowds.
If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness,” he will rest satisfied.
Celebration of Discipline Richard Foster

Imagining things from our Adversary’s perspective is usually restricted to reading C.S. Lewis’s short classic Screwtape Letters. However, it’s probably a good posture to take every so often.

If we assume our Enemy wants us engaged in noise, hurry, and crowds – we can see what (at least from Richard Foster’s perspective) we should be paying attention to.


Foster wrote Celebration of Discipline in the ’70s, and Lewis was writing just after WWII. But this is at the same time both an incredibly current and ancient attitude. For Augustine – a North African Christian leader nearly 1800 years ago – solitude was a necessity. Not just a nice-to-have add-on. Many pastors – like John Mark Comer and others today are urging us to take a step back, unplug, and just be. Not do anything other than be in God’s presence.

We can’t find contentment in life if we are so busy, rushed, and drowning in noise that we can’t even feel, see, or hear what God has for us.


Just slow down.

Take the next 30 minutes.
how about 10?

Take a step back.
Stop doing.

Rest in God’s presence.
No doing – just being.

If our enemy truly does want us to be swamped with noise, hurry, and crowds – get away from them. Even if just for a moment.

Breathe in – breathe out. Recognize that you sit in the presence of Almighty God.


God of Sabbath,
Lord of the Still Small Voice,
Father of gentleness.
Help us to respect our limitations.
Help us see when we need to slow down.
When we need to stop.
When we need to hit pause.
Help us hear your voice,
Feel your presence,
and know your love
in the quiet, stillness of our soul.


Talk to you next Thursday!


Holding Grief & Joy Together + Book List #2

Hi Reader,

Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray


One of the hardest things about grief – is that it can feel all-encompassing. Mourning the loss of someone or something significant can feel all-consuming. However – most of the time – we feel grief and joy.

We are absolutely wrecked that they are gone, but glad their suffering is over.
Devastated they moved away, but excited for their new adventure.
We are glad for a new opportunity, but overwhelmed at the same time

These things can, do, and often will – occur at the same time. Joy and sorrow, happiness and despair, excitement and worry.

If we think contentment means getting to the place where we are only experiencing positive feelings, we will be constantly disappointed.

We need to accept that life is not so binary, not so black OR white.

I hope one of the books below can help you see that truth at a deeper level


You’re “DO THIS” for this week is a bit different. I really encourage you to read/listen to one of the following five books. They are memoirs/autobiographies by people who have lived through experiences that have forced them to reject the false notion that things are either all good or all bad. That contentment can – and often does – lie in the grey areas of life.

In no particular order….

  1. All My Knotted up Life – Beth Moore
  2. I Am Restored: How I Lost My Religion but Found My Faith -Lecrae
  3. Let Justice Roll Down – John Perkins
  4. Me, Myself and Bob – Phil Vischer
  5. Everything Happens for a Reason – Kate Bowler

All My Knotted up Life: A Memoir – Beth Moore

“I’d held the dying hands of perfect strangers. But only strangers are perfect. It’s the known ones that muddle.”

So to be honest, although I’d heard of, and about Beth Moore for years, I’m pretty sure I’ve never read anything by her (which I guess is not surprising since she spent most of her career writing women’s Bible studies for the Southern Baptist church). But what a story she has. Through all kinds of hardships – some from others’ bad choices, others medical, others hurt from inside the church – Moore has a seemingly unflappable sense of contentment.

I Am Restored: How I Lost My Religion but Found My Faith – Lecrae

“I came to this painful realization: I wasn’t devoted to God. I was devoted to my devotion to God.”

Just listing this book makes me want to go back and read it again. This is an unflinching and brutally honest look from a life that has known much suffering, hurt, success, acceptance, rejection, love, and everything in between. From a difficult childhood to trying to find a place in the modern evangelical church for himself, this story is powerful. For years I have found the lyrics of Lecrae’s music to be an incredible source of theology, and this book lets his life story fill in the gaps.

Let Justice Roll Down – John M. Perkins

“Yielding to God’s will can be hard. And sometimes, it really hurts. But it always brings peace.”

This one is actually a bit tough as it goes head-first into some pretty tough realities of the near past. Someone who has experienced so much hurt, hatred, contempt, anger, and injustice you would understand (and probably expect) to be bitter, jaded, and angry. Dr. Perkins instead tells a story of forgiveness, restoration, and grace. He found ways to rest in the contentment of his faith no matter what this world was putting him through.

Me, Myself and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables – Phil Vischer

“The Christian life wasn’t about running like a maniac; it was about walking with God. It wasn’t about impact; it was about obedience. “

This book is funny, poignant, and so insightful. It is a great read about how faith intersects with business and entrepreneurship ( years ago I used it as an assigned text in a university business class I taught) But the real lesson comes through when we see how someone can stand firm despite seeming to lose it all. Especially when the dream/calling is what you honestly think God wanted you to do. Vischer realizes that maybe working for God, and resting in God are not the same. We will run ourselves ragged working for him, but find contentment resting in Him.

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved – Kate Bowler

“At a time when I should have felt abandoned by God, I was not reduced to ashes. I felt like I was floating, floating on the love and prayers of all those who hummed around me like worker bees, bringing notes and flowers and warm socks and quilts embroidered with words of encouragement. They came in like priests and mirrored back to me the face of Jesus.”

What happens when a Manitoba Mennonite, grows up, earns their PhD, studies the American Prosperity gospel, marries their high-school sweetheart, gets their dream job, and has a baby….. only to be diagnosed with terminal cancer at 35? This book. With what – at least to me – can only be a humble, but quirky Canadian-prairie sense of humour Kate Bowler pulls us along for an incredibly personal look at what you are left with when you think you are literally about to lose everything. The answer is contentment through faith. This is a great book.


Lord, may we learn from your saints,
others who have lived before us.
Mothers, sons, pastors, writers, professors, janitors, neighbors.
Those who live out a contented life because you are the center of it.
may we learn from those who live out their faith.
Give us eyes to see the beauty of a deeply, truly contented life.
Even the ones right around us.


Talk to you next Thursday!


PS: Remember… if you share this newsletter with someone using this link… [RH_REFLINK GOES HERE]

As soon as someone signs up I’ll send you a free copy of my soon-to-be-released book on Peter

You should be thankful….

Hi Reader,

Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray


Quite a few times here at Living Contentment we’ve looked at the relation between gratitude and contentment. Today i heard a quote that made the connection between them a bit clearer – at least for me.

Instead of adapting to goodness… celebrate goodness

— Robert A. Emmons and Jeremy Adam Smith

The Gratitude Project

Many times we desperately hope for something – and then we get it….and merely adapt to it.

The thing we thought was going to be life changing – is now normal.

The house that was going to make it all better – now is just fine.

The job that was going to be fulfilling – is now status quo.

The ….whatever. We adapted to it. We took it into our lives – made it somehow normal, and just move on.

We can easily adapt to something …but when we do so – we may be missing an opportunity to be thankful. To be grateful.


What thing do you have now – that you had hoped/anticipated / thought was going to be a game-changer?

Another way of thinking of it is What do you have now that is an answer to a prayer you had in the past?

Have you taken a miraculous answer to prayer – and somehow made it just part of life.

Don’t allow yourself to just adjust to goodness—remember it and celebrate it.


God give me eyes to see the goodness right in front of me.
Give me a mind to recall the things I asked you for.
Give me a heart to appreciate the goodness you have for me.

Talk to you next Thursday!


Living Contentment Book List

Hi Reader, Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly.

This week there I will NOT help you focus on contentment with something to read | do | pray

Instead, I want to share some words of others who have greatly impacted my understanding of deep, true, contentment.

5 Books that have Taught me about Contentment

  1. The Cost of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Written during the rise of the Nazi party by a German pastor, this classic brings up the difference between cheap and costly grace. Bonhoeffer argues “costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him.” I found that many times when I long for ‘happiness’ instead of contentment – it’s a struggle between cheap and costly grace.

2. You Are Not Your Own -Alan Noble

The astute Alan Noble teases out how the fundamental lie of our age, basically – “you are your own, and you do what you want, make your own meaning in life, and make yourself happy” is perhaps the biggest problem we face. At one point Noble argues “We strive to make our lives exceptional in every way; but inevitably, we always feel disappointed.” Disappointment is the opposite of contentment. Noble helps us see how when we give up on living for ourselves, we can truly find contentment. (this book is a bit academic – not always a super easy read – but I think completely worth the effort)

3. The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness -Tim Killer

In this book, the late Tim Keller urges us to live not focused on ourselves ‘self-loving’ or self-hating, but in forgetting ourselves. This is a short, easy read, that helps us remember not to think less of ourselves, but to think of ourselves less. In doing so we can stop falling into either arrogance or depression. The third place – one of not focusing on ourselves – is the only place we find contentment.

4. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment – Jeremiah Burroughs

I still remember reading this during our first evacuation from Burundi in 2015, and it continues to have a profound impact on my understanding of contentment. Again, not the easiest book to get through as it was written in the 17th century, but in my opinion, worth it. Burroughs’s working definition of Christian contentment is, “that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” This understanding is one I come back to over and over.

5. Life Without Lack – Dallas Willard

The always brilliant and insightful Willard uses the imagery of Psalm 23 to show what complete reliance on the Good Shepherd looks like. A life where we lack nothing. In short – a life of complete contentment. Willard’s books have had a very profound impact on my life, and this one is profound in the way he presents the purely contented life as one of such deep beauty. Willard makes a deeply contented life truly attractive to the reader, and not just a virtue we need to struggle after.

Talk to you next week.


Crying when neccesary

NOPE – it’s not just you.

Living Contentment has been on hiatus for several weeks now.

But we’re back today – and picking up the Grief ≠ Discontentment theme

Hi Reader,

Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray


When I was little I knew my Uncle George was the coolest person you could find. He had a farm with massive machines that he let us – as 4-10-year-olds – ‘help’ him drive. One Christmas he used a tractor to clear off a skating rink on the frozen dugout, and then a massive meandering path all around the outside. When my little brother was too tired to keep skating, he put him in the back-hoe and then pulled the rest of us. When it was finally time to stop and we had to put our sore feet back into frozen boots, he instead scooped us up in the bucket, lifted us WAY up off the ground, skates dangling, drove back to the house, and set us down on the rubber mat on the back step. I remember ‘helping’ him drive swather to cut fields of wheat. A gust of wind blew the toy construction hat off my head (which I wore because I wanted to be like my Uncle George). He retrieved it, but not after it almost was destroyed, so he fixed it with duct tape. Now it was the greatest hat ever.

He died of cancer WAY TOO YOUNG when I was only in fourth grade. I have vivid memories of sitting in the backyard of my grandma’s house, out by the little stone fire-pit, between the caragana bushes and the tiny, leaning wooden garage, bawling my eyes out. But I also remember when my aunt came out, trying to wipe my tears and say I was fine.

What a strange natural reflex we have. Unable to admit we’re grieving when the situation truly warrants it. I think one of the main drivers behind this behavior is a sense that we shouldn’t grieve. That grieving shows weakness. Or dissatisfaction. Or discontentment.

But contentment and grief can – and I would argue – should coexist. At least during those times when grief is the appropriate response. We need to grieve certain things. I recently realized there was a loss that I was so busy moving on from, that I basically said to myself “Welp – that’s too bad. Next!” That’s not how we deal with losses. At least not in a healthy way.

We won’t find deep, true contentment if we’re avoiding grief. The sad irony is that sometimes I think we avoid grief because we’re trying to find contentment.


What loss have you not appropriately grieved?

What pain have you not truly mourned?

It could be a death, loss of a job, ending of a relationship, or so many other things.

I encourage you to sit for a moment. Write it out on a piece of paper. Sketch out all the things that hurt about the loss. What won’t be the same? What good is gone?

Then allow yourself to grieve.

Ask God for strength to move through that, remembering these words of scripture:

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

He will turn your mourning into dancing. Psalm 30:11-12

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


Lord, you say you keep track of my sorrows, and see my tears,
but sometimes in my grief, I feel so alone.
Help me feel your presence.
You comfort those who mourn,
but I don’t always believe that.
Help me feel your healing.
You ask me to enter the grief of others,
but it’s so hard.
Give me the courage to be your light in someone’s darkness.

Talk to you next Thursday!


Grief is NOT Discontentment

Hi Reader,

Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray


It feels like over the last few weeks my life has been hit by a lot of sad, tragic, disappointing, discouraging things. High school kids whose dad suddenly and tragically dies. Someone is diagnosed with cancer as soon as they make wedding plans. Burning, looting, and murdering at a school. Complex physical illness resulting from trauma. Failing organs, failing trust, failing marriages. Some of them are friends. Some only people we know. Others are even farther away. Some hit our family itself.

I had this newsletter drafted when one of our teammates shared at our weekly team bible study about grief. How we need to do it. How it doesn’t make pain go away, but helps us deal with it.

There is a danger that in our desire to be content, we mistake contentment for happiness, and in doing so, eliminate the possibility of grief. Perhaps we convince ourselves that if we are content, everything just rolls off our back. That showing signs of grieving, mourning, weeping are signs of weak faith.

This. Could. Not. Be. Further. From. The. Truth.

Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus.

Paul instructed the Thessalonians to grieve – just not like those who have no hope.

Sad, tragic and devastating events require a response of remorse, sadness, anger, and/or grief

Grief and mourning are not the opposite of a contented life, but are a fundamental part of it.


Is there something you need to mourn?

Name it. Call it out. Identify it. This will not give it more power – it will help you move through it.


When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever

Psalm 73:21-26

Talk to you next Thursday!


What kind of boat do you have???

Hi Reader,

Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray


For thousands of years, rowing or sailing were the two basic ways to travel across the water. My guess is you still run your inner life – probably your spiritual life – in one of these ways.

Rowing uses your own power and relies on your strength. But at least you’re in control. The relation between effort and speed is pretty direct and clear. Try harder –> go faster. The biggest problem of course is that you have only so much energy in you to give.

Sailing relies on an outside power, that you harness, not create. You have to rely on the wind. If it dies down you go nowhere. If the wind picks up speed, so do you. You can adjust for the wind, keep moving in light wind, and do things to slow down in strong wind – but either way, you are being driven by something outside of your control. And of course, that means you don’t use up your energy. The wind can in theory keep going forever, as can the boat.

After the miraculous feeding of the five thousand next to the Sea of Galilee, Jesus heads off to pray by himself and the disciples head home across the water. John specifically mentions how they moved:

When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat -John 6:19

They were using their energy and strength to get across that massive lake. This is interesting because in the verse before John points out:

The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.

They were rowing because they were going against the wind, Matthew specifically points out that the disciple’s boat was being “…beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.” (Matt 14:24)

They were rowing, but Jesus was strolling. They were working against the wind, which makes tough work.

We’re going to spend a number of weeks looking at God’s Spirit and similarities to breath, and wind.

Today’s takeaway is merely to remember how much effort it is to work against – not with – God’s Spirit.


Can you think of a time in your life when you truly sensed God wanted you to move in a particular direction -and you went the other way? How did that feel? How did it turn out?

What about the opposite? When you’ve moved WITH the Spirit of God – how did that feel?


Your Spirit is active and living,
with power and direction.
Give me the wisdom to not go against that.
I will very quickly run out of energy rowing against you,
instead of letting you fill the sails of my life.
Let me see where you want me to go,
in the small everyday choices of life,
as well as the big.
Fill me with your Spirit,
for I can’t do what you have called me to do
on my own.

Talk to you next Thursday!


Lead them to what??? – Spreading Contentment #5

Hi Reader,

Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray


Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at various ways we can have a positive impact on the contentment of those around us.

We’ve looked at how even the blind can help the blind, how our scars not wounds can help, how we might be the missing ingredient in a combination for someone, and how we often don’t share the very thing that brings the most contentment.

Last week, we looked at how pointing people to Jesus is the real ultimate way to help others increase their contentment. Today I want us to think about what it is we’re actually pointing people to when we point them to the way of Jesus.

For a few centuries now, a lot of rhetoric from the Christian church has focused on Hell. Or at least Heaven and Hell. This is WAY too big a topic for this simple newsletter, but for the last 500 years (1/4 of the life of the post-resurrection Church) there has been an emphasis on how Christianity affects what happens to you after you die.

If we consider the book of Acts as an accurate reflection of the early church (and I’ve never heard anyone seriously argue that it is anything else) then we should probably look back at what they talked about. When those early believers, many of whom had met Jesus in person, tried to point others to the way of Jesus, to give them a deep sense of living contentment, what did they talk about?

Of all the messages spoken in Acts, only 16 of them – 58% – speak of hell.

OK – I just lied. Totally made up those numbers.

The number is actually zero. [1]

There is no talk of hell, no mention of “heaven and hell.”

But interestingly – there is a lot of talk of “heaven and earth.” and talk about the “kingdom of God” – both referring to how God is acting and present in the here and now. In fact, in the whole of the New Testament – ‘heaven and earth’ and ‘kingdom of God’ show up almost 100 times, and hell only 22.

The early followers of Jesus fully realized they were part of a movement that has a massive impact on the here and now.

If we are trying to spread real, living contentment let’s be sure to share the part that affects the here and now.
Yes – eternity with God is the absolute ultimate in contentment.

However, there is so much contentment that following Jesus brings here and now. That’s mostly what we look at every week – but let’s not drop that when we share with others what following Jesus means.


When you think about how following Jesus can bring contentment – what is your first thought?

Eternal contentment in eternity – or – a of contentment now?

Both are true – but teh way each of us tends to lean towards one side will impact how and what we share with others.
Try to have a more balanced sense of the ‘now vs. then’ sense of Christian contentment.


God of love,
you want good for all,
not just in the next life,
but here and now.
Help us hear your call to bring your kingdom,
so your will is done here, now,
just as it is in heaven.


Talk to you next Thursday!


[1] In Acts 2:27 records Peter using the Greek word HADES when he quotes Psalm 16:10. HADES is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word SHEOL. There is wide agreement that SHEOL/HADES are not at all the same concept as Hell – which is usually the translation of the Greek word GEHENNA – which is itself a name for a place in the valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem.