The Top 10 Blog Posts on Navigating By Faith in 2019

Thank you, everyone who visited in 2019, and I hope you have a wonderful, faith-filled 2020.

I started writing Navigating by Faith at the end of 2012 after a stretch of some gentle nagging in my heart and mind. I believed then that writing is what God wanted me to do, so I set out to write.

By the statistics, I haven’t taken the Internet by storm. At just over 10,000 views the last two years, I haven’t gotten close to the views some people get on a single post or video, and this year is the first in which I had fewer views than the year before. Pretty humble numbers.

While I look at the numbers (who doesn’t), I don’t write for the numbers. It wasn’t my motivation in the beginning, and I am reminded often that I write simply because I feel God has prompted me to write. I don’t really know the reason. I trust God will do what He will with it. I’m not sure it is for me to know.

I struggle at times to write. I don’t feel particularly insightful much of the time. When I do have some nuanced ideas coursing through my mind, the act of getting those ideas through a keyboard out onto a screen often seems to result in the dissipation of them. I find the subtlest and most poignant ideas sometimes elude me as I try to capture them in print. Almost inevitably, the ideas I begin with morph as I try to get them out.

I try to listen to the Holy Spirit and be inspired and guided by Him. For this reason, I don’t often plan what I write. Almost never. My writing is an extension of the things I am reading, thinking about and very often praying about as I meditate on God and what He seems to be saying in my inner being.

As I look back at my first blog post (In the Beginning Was the Word), I am reminded the guiding principal that has been with me since the beginning is the idea that God’s word does not return to Him empty; it will accomplish that which He purposes, and it will succeed in the thing for which He sent it (from Isaiah 55:10-11).  I am not sure how often I am able to channel the Holy Spirit when I write, but my hope is that I sometimes do.

To the extent that I have been able to speak God’s word (not scripture, but prophetic utterance), I have done what I believe God has given for me to do. The rest is up to Him.

I find it easier to write “intellectual” pieces (rather than inspirational or creative pieces). I find it much more difficult to be creative. In fact, it’s downright work. Trying to string together a series of blog posts on one difficult subject is also work.

If anyone has read my blog over time and has any insight into which types of writings seem to be most effective for me, or resonate most with you as a reader, I would appreciate the insight. Constructive criticism is welcome.

With that said, here are the ten most viewed blog posts for 2019 at Navigating by Faith in descending order:

It’s interesting to me that the oldest blog article on the top ten list for 2019 was also the most viewed in 2019. The writing of the old hymn, It is well with My Soul, is a true story that obviously resonates. In a chaotic and troubled world, I guess we need to know that God can be our rock that protects us from the wind and waves.

I am not surprised that an article on Donald Trump is in the top ten (second in fact). I don’t relish writing about him (or about politics for that matter). As Christians, I believe we are to respect the authorities in place, but we shouldn’t idolize them. No one has divided the world, the United States and the Church like Donald Trump.

I spend a lot of my time on the intellectual bases of faith. At least four top ten articles fall in this category. At number 3, an article on the earliest creeds tracks the great work of Gary Habermas that shows how the first followers of Jesus began to spread the word that Jesus rose from the dead right from the beginning. Habermas shows in this way that the resurrection isn’t a legendary development that arose generations after Jesus died. The resurrection was communicated as if it were a fact from the beginning.

Two of the apologetic articles are on the same subject: the Ebla Tablets. These tablets are Sumerian writings that date to the 3rd Century BCE and confirm many people, places and things found in the biblical writings. The contribution of archaeology in proving the reliability of Scripture as historical writings can’t be overstated.

Meanwhile, reflections on the death of Stephen Hawking, inspired by the words of John Lennox, who knew him, also has an apologetic bent to it. I continue to find it intriguing that nonbelievers and believers are counted among the smartest people in the world. It tells us that faith makes sense even to some of the smartest people, but faith is accessible to anyone.

Three of the top ten blog posts in 2019 were also in the top five blog posts for each of the last four years: It Is Well with My Soul: The Story; the Ebla Tablets Confirm Biblical Accounts; and C.S. Lewis on Individualism, Equality and the Church. They also stand as the top three blog posts of the blog going back to the beginning.

In fact, all of the top ten but two from the beginning are in the top ten for 2019. The exceptions are The Hobby Case Summarized (most views of which remain from the year it was published) and A Message in a Manger (maybe because I didn’t repost it in 2019 as I have in most years). They were ousted by Reflections on the Influence if Stephen Hawking and The Ebla Tablets Revisited in the 2019 top ten.

The top ten blog posts over the life of Navigating by Faith are as follows:

Thank you, everyone who has read this post looking back at 2019 and over the life of Navigating By Faith, and thank you everyone who has visited the blog, read the articles and posted comments. I appreciate the feedback. I hope you got something out of what I have done. Have a wonderful, faith-filled 2020.

WordPress Audience, Please Respond

Dude with duct tape

So I went to post on Facebook the article linked below that I wrote today and got this message:

Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.

Please read the article and let me know what you think about the Facebook message. You don’t have to like the article or agree with any of the ideas, opinions or conclusions that are expressed.

In fact, I would like to hear from those who don’t share my perspective of the world.

Whether you like the article or not, though, please respond and express your thoughts about the Facebook censorship. Thank you!

via God is the Fulfillment of the Desires He Built into Us

The Myth of Human Rationality

Rationality isn’t wholly missing from the human thinking process; it’s just that rationality isn’t always the driving factor

Ed Atkinson was recently interviewed with Austin Fischer by Justin Brierly on his podcast, Unbelievable, on the issue of doubt. (A Tale of Two Doubters) The personal story of both men involves their public dealings with doubt. One ended up on the unbelieving side of the faith divide, and the other on the believing side.

The point that intrigued me most about the discussion was when Ed Atkinson brought up Jonathan Haidt, who wrote a book called The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and ReligionOne of the topics Haidt addresses is what he calls “the rationalist delusion”, which Atkinson summarizes as a “wild overestimation of our rationality that was … birthed to us in the Enlightenment”.

Atkinson says, “We like to think of ourselves as very rational beings [who] very rationally work and think our way through the world sorting through the syllogisms and … coming to what is the correct answer.” The work that Haidt and others have done on the subject have debunked that view of ourselves. Atkinson says, “Our decision-making process really isn’t very rational.”

I have often thought about this very thing. When I look back on my own journey, I recall that I went off to college with a passionate desire to discover meaning and truth, believing it was attainable, and having a naïve confidence in the rationality of the human mind. What I found in college was a very mixed bag. Though my quest for meaning and truth never waned, my confidence in the rationality of the human mind was disappointed.

I came to distrust that confidence in myself and in others, especially in others whose confidence in their own rationality seemed unwavering. Elevated self-confidence often seems more like brute will than rationality.

Since that time I have been continually disappointed in the rationality (or lack thereof) of the human mind, especially in those who seem to have no doubt about their own rationality. That I am sometimes guilty of the same over-confidence only adds to my disappointment and angst.

As a lawyer whose vocation is getting at the truth through the presentation of the evidence on both sides of a matter to a neutral judge, I have had generous opportunity to test human rationality. What I have found (over and over again) is that human rationality is often affected by things that have little or nothing to do with reason.

Continue reading “The Myth of Human Rationality”

Top Ten Navigating By Faith Articles in 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 57089233 Copyright: seenaad

As I reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming New Year, I am somewhat surprised by the top ten blog articles on this site based on the numbers. Many of the them are articles written in prior years. Only two of the top ten were written in 2017, and those are at the bottom. Six articles were written in 2015. I am not sure what that says about how I am trending as a writer!

For all of the people who have stopped by, read an article or two and for those who responded by a “like”, a comment or a share of what I have written, thank you! I have enjoyed getting to know some of you through your own writing, and I look forward to reading what you have to say in the coming year.

Top Ten Blog Articles of 2017

1.    The Ebla Tablets Confirm Biblical Accounts (2015)
2.    It is Well with My Soul: The Story (2014)
3.    C.S. Lewis on Individualism, Equality and the Church (2015)
4.    The Message in the Earliest Creeds in the New Testament (2015)
5.    The Story of Norma McCorvey (aka Jane Roe) (2015)
6.    Tuning In To God’s Frequency (2016)
7.    What if God is Cruel (2015)
8.    Timing the Walls of Jericho (2017)
9.    Have Christians Lost the Moral High Ground on Immigration? (2017)
10.   My Journey (2015)

Are People Responsible for the Earth?

There is an irony at play today in regard to the way Christians see the world and the prevalent way modern westerners see the world.

Photo by Randy Schoof
Photo by Randy Schoof

There is an irony at play today in regard to the way Christians see the world and the prevalent way modern westerners see the world. Modern westerners largely believe that human beings are affecting climate change and are arguing that we must change the way we do things because we are breaking the world.

Christians may or may not believe in climate change and may or may not believe that we can affect climate change, but Christians believe that human beings broke the world because of sin, because we rebelled against God, because we are flawed.

The irony is that modern westerners don’t believe in sin. They don’t believe in God or that we are opposed to God in our nature. They don’t believe that people are fundamentally flawed. They don’t believe that we are responsible for the brokenness of the world.

2013 Year in Review: As I Saw It

Down a Fall Road - Copy (2)

I have added a new look to the blog and have made some other changes that I will address at the end. In the meantime, I have done some reflecting on this past year in Navigating by Faith. I began writing because I enjoy it and feel compelled to write. Writing is a way to find meaning and capture it as time slips on day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year. If my reflection can trigger reflection in others, I have accomplished something and helped others to “smell the roses” find perspective and grow.

I began this blog as a way to mark my faith journey, tap into a deeper well of meaning on the way and provide, perhaps, helpful perspective for others on a similar journey. Much of what I have written is retrospective, reflecting on milestones in my faith progression dating back to college and before. I have explored passages and themes in the Bible, which I view as the inspired “Word of God”; I have attempted to engage doubters, agnostics and atheists; I have explored perspectives on current events and addressed things that are important to me.

For what it is worth, I have categorized the past year’s blog posts below. These categories are different than the tags and keywords that are attributed to each post and every post collectively. It is my way or wrapping up the year putting the year of writing in perspective. I hope that those of you who have read any of these posts have enjoyed them, have been challenged by some and maybe even have been inspired by some to dig deeper and to break the through hard veneer built up by the busyness of life that pressures us to rush past on the superficial surface of life.

This is the Year in Review in Navigating by Faith:

Faith Milestones in my Life – This topic is, perhaps, the main impetus to the start of this blog.

  • Why the Bible This piece describes my initial reaction to the Bible in college in World Religions class and the ongoing significance of that first impression 30+ years later.
  • Lighting Out for the Wild West Another turning point in my life came in a combined History/American Literature class
  • The Joy of C.S. Lewis These are my reflections on the life of C.S. Lewis on the 50th anniversary of his death and the lasting impression he has made on my life

Bible Passages and Themes – The Bible informs my faith and is the continual point of reference

Christian Music – As someone who is outward looking in my faith, I am intrigued by musicians with a similar view

  • Switchfoot My reflections on an article “Why Switchfoot Will Not Sing Christian Songs”
  • Michael Gungor Reflections on an article by Michael Gungor of what is wrong with the Christian music industry

Outward Looking Articles on Faith – I have a certain ambivalence in my writing motivation. Sometimes I find myself wanting to focus on the Bible and its deeper message for believers, but often I am find myself wanting to address an audience of doubters and unbelievers. These are kind of hybrid pieces

  • What if the Kingdom of God Consideration of life after death addressed to the doubter
  • Perspective A short reflection putting life in perspective
  • The Best and Hardest Things A reflection on getting and taking advice
  • Love Your Enemies Every Day An exploration of biases and personal tendencies in light of Jesus’ instruction to love your neighbors, inspired by a remarkable story of a black man who befriended and changed the views of many former members of the Ku Klux Klan

Bridging Science and Faith/Apologetics – I became a believer in a secular, humanistic, college environment. I am always wanting to address people who are, like I was, outside the faith, to defend Christianity, to show people that intellect does not need to be checked at the door to heaven and to help people past their doubts

Sports/Wrestling – Wrestling is such a part of my life and faith journey, that it always seeps in to my thoughts; but I could not refrain from commenting after the announcement of the IOC committee of its recommendation to drop wrestling from the Olympics

Theater – Theater is a new faith path for me. My 5th son is part of Spotlight Youth Theater, a Christian organization,  which opens up a new canvass for reflections on faith

Current Events

  • The Face of Evil The Boston marathon tragedy was major news in 2013 and provoked widespread response. I take a different view in this piece, inspired by one of those milestones in my college life
  • No Man’s Land These comments were provoked by the cold, inhumanity of the convicted Philadelphia abortion doctor
  • When Words Become Fact It was hard to avoid thinking about the Affordable Care Act in 2013, and these comments were triggered by an article written by someone else
  • Shutdown the Political Game The government shutdown was also hard to ignore. These reflections attempt to put the government shut down in some perspective

The Most Read Article

  • Six Attributes of Success This piece was inspired by Jordan Burroughs winning the world wrestling championships with metal plates and screws in his ankle, six weeks after the devastating injury. It stands on its own and draws from my own experience and my own children. This piece garnered the most comments of any article for the year. It covers almost every category – faith, currents events, sports/wrestling, my own faith journey, even apologetics in the sense that faith inspires, and has inspired, many great people who accomplished great things.

Throughout the year, I began to experience a tension in my writing. The ambivalence in me in regard to the audience I wanted to address came to a head, and I started a new blog – Perspective – to provide a forum for writing to an audience that is not chiefly made up of believers. I still wrestle with that ambivalence. With the apologetic pieces I have written, I feel like I am preaching to the choir. I imagine I will continue to wrestle through what this blog should be and who the audience is (should be). Perhaps, the answer may lie partly in what I feel most compelled to write about; but what people want to read also enters into the equation.

For the second part of the equation, please post your thoughts, comments, criticisms, encouragement – whatever feedback you can give me. It is all appreciated! Thank you.

Who is Elle?

Spotlight Youth Theater is a great program in the Chicago area that introduces youth to the theater and integrates theater arts with Christian faith. If you have a budding “theater kid”, Spotlight is a very safe, supportive environment for them to learn to sing, dance and act and even how to audition. Spotlight is not available in all areas of the country, but Christian Youth Theater ( is in many large metropolitan areas. It is the largest youth theater program in the country, and the characteristics are very similar.

Spotlight Youth Theater

Elle Sprague is one of the newest members of the Spotlight team.  Recently Justin Parks sat down with her to learn a little more about her and her new role in Marketing with Spotlight. 

JP: Let’s start with an easy question… Where are you from?
ES: I grew up in Mundelein, IL and I live in Libertyville now.

JP: You’ve been teaching for Spotlight for a couple of years now.  Where did you receive your training?
ES: I started dancing when I was 6 (ballet, tap, and jazz) and started taking classical voice lessons at 11 years old.  My first exposure to Ballroom/Latin was the Havana scene in Guys and Dolls when I was 15.  I totally fell in love with it and haven’t stopped since!  After high school, I majored in Musical Theater with a Dance Minor at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.

JP:  Tell us about your…

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