Tag Archives: Discipleship

How Big is Your Drip Line?

This week I have been enjoying the book The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture, by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.  Based off Psalm 1, he uses the metaphor of a tree to describe the stable life.

Look at a tree on the landscape out your window and you will notice that it is shaped something like a geyser, reaching up in the single column of a trunk to spray out in limbs, most of them bending back toward the ground. Follow the downward slope of those bending branches as if they were the fluid spray of the geyser, and you can sketch out a circumference on the ground around the trunk of any tree. That circle is called the “drip line.” Without digging below the surface, it offers a pretty good sketch of how far away from a tree its roots reach for the water and nutrients it needs to flourish. Trees vary a great deal in size, and any tree, given the time, can extend its reach through growth. But it is important for the life of a tree that its extension above the surface not exceed its growth below. Stability depends on a tree knowing that its root system beneath the surface limits its capacity to send out limbs and produce fruit. In short, everything depends on the drip line. For people on the go, the root system that a drip line traces may feel more like a limit than a gift.

As a young father, I often feel like the boundaries placed on my life limit my freedom, but this metaphor reminds me that by raising my children in a Godly way, I am actually expanding my root system. To put it simply: these boundaries are expanding my capacity to produce fruit! But don’t just take my word for it:

Paul Wilkes…reflects on his resistance to limits as a young person, saying, “I bridled at restraints; I moved again and again. There was always something more out there I wasn’t finding.” For Wilkes, this led to a midlife crisis about the true meaning of freedom. “I looked upon married life and children as punishingly restrictive and certainly not a path to holiness or heroism,” he confesses. “After my devoted attempt to be a man of the world, I swerved onto other paths, believing I needed to live with the poor, then to be a monk, do some work of great value to humankind. Something out of the ordinary.” All of this frenetic searching eventually led Wilkes to what he calls a “desperately unhappy existence.” Free to pursue any life he could imagine, Wilkes found himself unable to really live.Considering the practice of stability some two decades after this crisis, Wilkes is able to name how his own salvation has depended on accepting the limits of marriage. “With two sons embarking on their teenage years and a working wife, my freedom of movement is severely restricted, my own desires secondary at best. Yet I experience some of the richest days of my life.” No longer free to do whatever he wants, Wilkes sees that he is free to love particular people whose needs he knows. To be sure, that circle of people is limited, circumscribed by the drip line of his life. But as he establishes roots of love, Wilkes can see that he is now able to grow. The boundary lines of his life and love expand as his roots grow deeper.

This book won’t stop prodding me where it hurts, insisting that the grass on the other side of the fence is just that, more grass. In the long run, it won’t taste better than this grass, and the hassle of getting stuck in–or addicted to going through–barb-wired fences is just not worth the bother.

So how big is your drip line? Is it growing as you commit to a place, and to loving the people in that place? Or is it shrinking because you run away from your problems…


Don’t Follow Me, Stay Where You Are (And Follow Me!)

Sometimes it can feel like you aren’t a very good Christian unless you are a missionary half-way across the world. In the book The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture, by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, I found this meditation on what it means to follow Jesus in the place you live.

Just as Jesus’ movement is picking up momentum, he tells a man not to follow him. This struck me as odd the first time I noticed it. The man is naked when Jesus meets him. Stripped bare, his spiritual torment is unveiled for all to see. He is alone—without family, community, or the institutions of love that humans need to flourish…Jesus commands the demons to come out of him and go into a herd of pigs. Filled with the demons that had tormented the man, the pigs run off a cliff and into the lake. The point is clear enough: whatever just came out of this man is a force that will run living creatures to their death. When the townspeople turn back from watching the pigs splash into the lake, they see the man who had been possessed “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.” No longer constantly driven to flee, this man has been healed. He is seated at the feet of the One who stands immovable. It’s an incredible contrast to the scene when Jesus first set foot on the shore and the man came running, every muscle tense. Restless and distraught before, he is now seated, in his right mind…Yet the sight of this man seated at Jesus’ feet puts fear in the people of the town. We are, after all, accustomed to our demons. Despite our frustration and occasional acts of resistance, we accommodate ourselves to the ways they limit our own lives and crush the lives of others. However terrible our demons may appear when we look them in the face, their presence along the periphery of our lives feels normal. Maybe the demons kill, but we’re often more comfortable with the frenetic forces that drive us here and there than we are with the radical new way of life that Jesus brings. The people of this little town on the other side of the lake ask Jesus to leave. Respecting their wishes, he does. But as Jesus is getting into the boat, the man who has been made whole begs to go with Jesus. His peaceful posture is disturbed by the thought of Jesus leaving. For the first time in years, he has found peace with Jesus. Like a good disciple, he wants to sit at Jesus’ feet. Indeed, he wants to follow Jesus’ feet wherever they go. But Jesus says no. “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” Stay where you are. In whatever place you find yourself, do not easily leave it. Jesus delivers the demon-possessed man and then offers him the gift of stability. Maybe the single most important thing we can do if we want to grow spiritually is to stay in the place where we are.

Many early Christian writers understood the principle of stability. For example:

Someone asked Abba Antony, “What must one do in order to please God?” After encouraging the pilgrim to keep God before his eyes and pattern his life after the Scriptures, Antony added, “In whatever place you find yourself, do not easily leave it.” Another of the desert fathers advised similarly, “If a trial comes upon you in the place where you live, do not leave that place when the trial comes. Wherever you go, you will find that what you are running from is ahead of you.”

I wonder how many Christians are called to stay!

My New Media Diet – Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst


I have been getting the bug to blog again! So now breaking radio silence…

After finishing a book called Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload, I made some major changes to the amount of data I allow into my life.The author, Mark Hurst, claims that discernment is the most necessary skill in “The Age of Bits”. Here are a few quotes which stood out:

The important thing is to learn how to engage the bits appropriately—to do the right thing with the bits at the right time. To rephrase Ecclesiastes, there’s a time to save, and a time to erase; a time to turn on, and a time to turn off; a time for all actions. But one must always look for ways to let the bits go. There is no other way to work in a world of infinite bits.

The scarce resource is not the bits but our time and attention to deal with them…if overload is the problem, then removing the load is the solution…Bit literacy means letting the bits go; anything else perpetuates the problem.

As Richard Saul Wurman put it in his 1989 book Information Anxiety: “One of the most anxiety-inducing side effects of the information era is the feeling that you have to know it all. Realizing your own limitations becomes essential to surviving an information avalanche; you cannot or should not absorb or even pay attention to everything.

The bit-literate approach involves creating and maintaining a media diet, a constantly pruned set of publications (digital, print, and other media) that keeps us informed about what matters most to us, professionally and personally. Like every other part of bit literacy, this is a discipline that users must take responsibility for. No one else can create our media diet…Once you have a media diet, you—and no one else—are in control of what you read, watch, and listen to. And you know the specific reasons why you engage each of your sources. Think of the media diet as a team of advisers you’ve hired to inform you about the world, on your terms. As the boss, you have to start by interviewing candidates, making some hires, and then continually evaluating how everyone is doing.

In response to reading this book I took several actions:

  • I culled my podcast list from over 60 to 25. I wanted to get down to 15 but couldn’t.
  • I also culled my blog roll from over 100 to 42.
  • Moved my mail app on my device to the back page instead of leaving it in my dock. In its place I moved my Kindle app so that I will more instinctively read instead of checking email when I don’t have the time to respond to my email.
  • I started using a tool called “Followupthen” to better manage my email. Bit Literacy describes a similar tool, but I wanted a free alternative. This one best suits my needs. It allows you to quickly email yourself in the future, so that emails only sit in your inbox when they are actually relevant to your life.

What strategies are you using to become more bit literate? Please Leave a comment below.

ACOP Conference Presentation – Technology as a Discipleship Tool

I spoke on “Using Technology as a Discipleship Tool” at our fellowship’s bi-annual conference on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.


It was a great experience and I am very pleased with how my presentation was received by every age group. If you want to watch it, you can check it out below:

Watch live video from CREATIVE STREAM on Justin.tv

If the video doesn’t display properly or you are on a mobile device try this link instead.

Related Articles