'Bible' tagged posts

Sermon on the Mount: A Summertime Plan for Families

One of my favorite things about summer is the change of pace that my kids experience. As homework pressures disappear, and the intense schedule of school and extracurricular activities shifts into summer mode, a different side of my children emerges. They get funnier, they talk more, they revive that long-lost interest they had in robotics… or books… or gardens… or stars. They even get to where they like each other better! And I love it all.

We recognized long ago in the Zinn house that summer is a wide-open opportunity for shaping our characters — our own and those of our children. So we begin praying weeks, sometimes even months, before summer hits — “Lord, what are the best ways you want us to use this coming summer? What are the things you want us to learn? What are the memories you want us to make? What are the risks you want us to jump into?

A Story of Perseverance

This isn’t a success story, but a story of perseverance.

Several weeks ago, Pastor Jon challenged the people of Discovery to read through the entire New Testament in 90 days.  I took on that challenge and can gladly say it has changed my approach to being a disciple of Jesus.

In summary, two days into the challenge I missed the reading. So, I read it the next day without trying to catch up.  Then there were several days where I forgot, but remembered when I went to bed and only read one chapter of the 4 that were on the reading plan. Furthermore, there were the several day where I did not follow the reading plan at all, but simply read the He Reads Truth devotional.

Full disclosure, I just started the Gospel of Luke and I think the reading plan would have me in Acts. I don’t exactly know where the challenge should be, nor do I care, because every day I have spent time in God’s word.  And what that has done is made me thirsty for more. 

Still Waters

caroline lake

We live in busy times. While I have no doubt that the same could be said throughout history, we do live in an age filled with an overabundance of information and distractions. And yet, in the midst of all of this we are called to find rest and peace in Christ. Some days it seems like an impossible task.  There’s so much to do, so many things requiring our attention. And over time we often find ourselves in circumstances asking “how did I get here?”

Recently I was meditating on Psalm 23 and in particular verse 2 where David writes that God “leads me beside still waters.” Often we read this passage and think about finding peace, but I was struck by something a bit different this time. 

You Gotta


Here’s the deal with time in the Word: you gotta.

You just have to. Done.

Is it hard to find the time? Yeah, it totally can be. Jobs and friends and kids and meetings and ministry and dishes (or ignoring dishes) easily fills up days and weeks and months. Sometimes my sink smells. Bad. But, you gotta.

Is it difficult to figure out where to start? Yep. That Bible is BIG, y’all. 66 books. Some of us haven’t read 66 books in our whole lives.  And some of it is just laws and genealogy. Blech.

Are you going to be confused? Oh, for sure. There is some CRAZY stuff in there. Suicide, destruction, violence. Dudes hanging out in fish bellies. Weirdly specific laws about bodily functions. Figures we place in high esteem committing murder and adultery. Get ready to furrow your brow and scratch your head. Get ready to have all your notions challenged. Get ready to think, “I’m not sure I like where this book of Job is going…”

But…you gotta. You just do. And here’s why…

The Word Equation

I find comfort in absolutes. They help me understand my world, and if I’m honest, it’s how I try to control it. That’s why I was always drawn to math and science growing up. There are formulas that give you the “always” relationship between items. That way you can predict the outcome when one of […]



His face is stern. The porch is rough and unpainted, marred by heavy boots and dirty hands. The family is large. Resources must be scarce and needs must have to be met. Days must be long, work must be hard, and words must be tense.

This is my great, great grandfather. He sits in the middle of his wife and five children, my great grandmother to the far left. There is no one alive today who knew him face to face. There is no one to tell his story. In the absence of facts and any personal narrative, my mind fills in the blanks. What I have is this photo and the knowledge that he died young, followed shortly by his wife, their children left orphaned. Forsaking education for employment, they moved north and traded the roles of sisters and brother for father and mother, playmate for protector, partner in mischief for provider.

Man Doesn’t Live on Bread Alone


I am a bibliophile. I could spend all day in a bookstore, leafing through pages, inhaling that sweet aroma, running my fingers over their spines. My bedside table gathers more words than I can read in a month (or even a year), and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I have a confession: as much as I love books, and as much as I love Jesus, I don’t always love picking up my Bible.

There was a time this hesitation made sense because I felt intimidated by both its prose and poetry; I worried I wouldn’t understand what Jesus said should be so clear. But that’s no longer the case. Last week, as I was studying and reflecting on the power of scripture, I was reminded of when God surprised me by opening my eyes just two and a half years ago.

The One Thing It Takes

I sat with my grieving, ever-so-long-time friend. Her son, for whom I had watched her struggle and agonize over the years, had just been diagnosed with Autism. She knew my life, my family. At the moment, she specifically knew of my son, my precious Tillman, with cerebral palsy, autism, borderline mental impairment. She knew also of the source of my strength, my gracious Lord Jesus – a Lord she did not yet share. She looked up at me with eyes full of pain and said those words that haunt the heart of every mother – “I just hope that I have what it takes.” And I sat quiet, loving her intensely – “Oh, my friend.” Deep breath. “You don’t. You don’t have what it takes. And I don’t have what it takes. Let me tell you Who does.”

Permit me to introduce my family. Our oldest child is also the newest to our family – 17-year-old Amber, who joined us five years ago in her oZinn Familywn season of grief. Fourteen-year-old Tillman is next, whom you have already met – followed 40 minutes later by his twin sister Celeste. And rounding out our family in all kinds of crazy ways are 12-year-old twins, Andrew and Caleb. Yes, you read that right. Five kids. Two sets of twins. I’ve been known to say that Brian and I got as far as deciding we were ready to have ONE child – and that is as much of the planning for which God has ever had us participate. Let me tell you – I do not have what it takes.