Professional religious people and politicians have had a bad couple decades in America. People who sound very confident of their “solutions” to our “problems” have, in fact, offered few real solutions and showed us plenty of their own problems. Much of the American leadership paradigm is built around the idea of a competent, skilled leader laying out a clear path to arrive at a desired destination. Businesses, churches, nations, and individuals order their lives around this paradigm. I’ve done it myself.

“Follow these steps, be this type of person, and you’ll be successful,” we’re told. And yet for so many…

A white lesbian couple with a black son, a 65 year-old half-blind Trump supporter, and the Mayor who is also the high school civics teacher and archery coach walk into a bar.

Well, a vintage store, actually.

Well, our real-life actual vintage store, actually.

And I’m starting to wonder if maybe we’re onto something that can help heal our souls, and maybe our nation in the process.

The Backstory

After 14 years working in politics and the church, my wife finally let me try out my crazy idea of hosting a vintage flea market on our property in January of 2019. She…

This summer my family visited the pristine and fully preserved village of Plymouth Notch, Vermont — hometown of President Calvin Coolidge. The visit moved me in unexpected ways.

I was struck by the austere simplicity of the place — and of his life. I was inspired by the hard work that shaped him and the tragedies he’d overcome. I wanted to learn more about him.

What I’ve discovered is that he was one of the least remarkable presidents we’ve had —boring really — in all the right ways. …

Today is Ash Wednesday for millions of Christian believers around the globe. The ashes symbolize, primarily, repentance. In the Old Testament it was common for people in mourning and repentance to wear itchy, uncomfortable sackcloth and sit in or cover themselves with ashes. This was a visible, outward symbol of the invisible, inward pain that was being experienced. It felt like something destroyed, burned up, gone forever.

There is, deep in our souls where we can barely, yet surely perceive it, a feeling that something is off. A feeling that there’s a way of being, especially of being together here…

Perhaps you have, like me, found yourself from time to time feeling trapped in an unsatisfying version of your life that doesn’t look at all like what you imagined your life to be. You know, deep down, there’s a “real life” to be lived. But it seems to elude you.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s amazing short story “Leaf, by Niggle” a small, humble artist named Niggle lives alone in a world that doesn’t really value his work; despite this, Niggle has an inner desire to create something beautiful, so he perseveres in his artwork. All of his time is consumed in…

Most mornings I wake up desperate for God. There’s many types of desperation. We can be desperate for help — as in needing supernatural intervention in some area of life or task we are facing that we just don’t feel we have the strength, ability, capacity or connections to tackle. We can be desperate for forgiveness, deeply in touch with some sin we’ve committed. We can be desperate for direction, not knowing the next steps to take in life, or a relationship, or a career or a specific project. Sometimes we can simply be desperate for love. …

People often ask what got me started collecting old things and how my wife and I decided to open a vintage store. I’ll tell that story another time (it starts with going picking on our honeymoon.) But what is perhaps more important, and more interesting, is the why behind buying, selling and collecting used, old things at all. Why would anyone want old stuff? Especially beat up, rusty or worn stuff, which is what I often find myself most drawn to?

Perhaps ironically, I’m someone who believes that things can’t bring us ultimate joy, fill the deeper voids in our…

I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of reading the ancient scriptures in their original language. My Koine Greek is a little rusty, but I’ve dusted off my Greek New Testament and have been referencing it, along with some Hebrew, whenever I come across English words or phrases that seem a little shallow. Sometimes I have a hunch there’s a richer meaning in the author’s original words and I want to understand them more fully.

If you don’t know Hebrew or Greek that doesn’t mean the Bible isn’t accessible to you. If you simply read it at face value and that will…

Fruit Still Life by Robert Spear Dunning

I think a lot about fruit. I like fruit. It’s good for me. There’s a tremendous variety available. It usually even looks beautiful and has been the subject of thousands of still life paintings and drawings. I also think a lot about it because it is one of the most colorful and striking metaphors used in the New Testament to describe how we live, how we should live and how we shouldn’t live.

Jesus sets us off down this path of fruit-talk when he says, in Luke 6:43–45:

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear…

Here’s a truth of Christian cultural and political engagement you can take to the bank: If we don’t get our allegiance right, we’ll get everything else wrong.

I should define what I mean by the word allegiance. Here’s a common definition from Google:

Allegiance: loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior or of an individual to a group or cause.

synonyms: loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity, obedience, fealty, adherence, homage, devotion

It is possible to have loyalty to someone or something without that loyalty being ultimate. We are to be faithful to our spouses, our friends and our jobs, for…

Joel Searby

Disciple, Husband, Father, Friend. www.joelsearby.com

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