The First Step in Calling

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The First Step in Calling

Young Christian, if you know the direction God is leading you but won't take one single step until He gives you 100% clarity and provision, you may just be waiting for the rest of your life.

He is a lamp to our feet, not a lighthouse to our path.

He wants you to rely on Him every day, with every little step. Not wait until you know every step. If you need certainty, you don't need faith.

Tell me one single character in the Bible other than Christ himself who knew every step from the start of God's calling?

- Moses?
- Joseph?
- David?
- The Disciples?

It burdens me to know how many christians are out there, discontent, with an overwhelming God-given passion, but no outlet, because they're waiting on the full picture.

I think a lot of us need to forget about “God’s will for my life.” God cares more about our response to his Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.

It is easy to use the phrase “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask him what he wants you to do in the next 10 minutes. It is safer to commit to following him someday instead of this day.

To be honest, I believe part of the desire to “know God’s will for my life” is birthed in fear and results in paralysis. We are scared to make mistakes, so we fret over figuring out God’s will….We forget that we were never promised a 20 year plan of action; instead, God promises multiple times in Scripture never to leave or forsake us.
— Francis Chan, Forgotten God

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Young Christians, 5 Questions You Must Ask Yourself

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Young Christians, 5 Questions You Must Ask Yourself

In Ephesians 4:1, Paul says, “Therefore I, a prisoner serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.”

 

Do you know what God has called you to, and are you confident in your calling?

If you know your calling but you’re not confident in it, you don’t fully understand calling.

Calling doesn’t mean you’re necessarily special. It means God intends to do something special in you and through you, when you walk in your calling. Not for your purposes, but His.

So, to lack confidence in your calling is to lack confidence in God’s wisdom.

However, one of the most frequent questions we ask God is, “What is your will for my life?” I know many are still wrestling with God’s calling so I have listed questions that may help.

  • What makes you feel alive?
  • What are you naturally good at?
  • What problems in this world break your heart?
  • What topics brings out your creative/entrepreneur side?
  • What job would you take a drastic pay cut for?
  • What abilities have people complimented you on?
  • What frustrates you when you see it done poorly?
  • What would you do if money and connections weren’t a problem?
  • What can you talk about for hours?
  • What work doesn’t exhaust you, but rather exhilarates you?

All these questions over time can narrow our calling, but the greatest question in the end is this;

What can you do in this life that will better help you love God and love people?

 

Are you doing something about your calling now?

This goes for both girls and guys; stop worrying so much about your next relationship. If you put as much thought, prayer, and effort into your First Love as you do in your next love, you would be a totally different person. We waste so much time looking for “the one” that we miss the one time in our life that Jesus is all we have. If you’re a young single, you’re no longer under your parent’s faith and you’re not yet devoted to a spouse and kids.

This is the only time when responsibilities are low and risks can be high. You have a ton of margin to fail, but for some reason we play it safe until we graduate, get a job, and/or get married. Unfortunately by then, you’re pretty tied down and your decision making changes from, “What has God called me to do?” to “What has God called us to do?” Those are two entirely different questions and directions.

Stop waiting for permission to walk in your calling. You need to understand that before the foundations of the earth, God created you for good works, so walk in them. There’s your permission. Make the best use of your time, because this is the only season you can live with an “undistracted devotion to God.” (1 Corinthians 7:35)

 

Who are your closest friends?

If you have Christian friends who say they love God, and they know God has called you to something for His purpose, but they don’t challenge you to walk in that calling, then you have people in your life that don’t fully understand the depths of friendship or God.

Basically, if all your friends tell you what you want to hear but not what you need to hear, you may not have friends.

There are Christians that are a great distraction to your calling, not because they draw you into sin, but because they draw you into complacency. They’re not clubbing and getting drunk every night. They’re just not doing anything with the gospel they have been entrusted with.

Here’s the question. If you went a full year without making one step forward in your calling, would your friends even notice or care?

You need friends who inspire you and drive you. As the famous quote says, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

 

Are you being discipled?

There’s an epidemic of young adults paying thousands for college, yet they have no clue what they want to do with their life. I personally believe this is due to a lack of discipleship in the Church.

I’ve noticed in most major cities, all the young adults dominate a handful of churches. And while a young community is good, as young adults we shoot ourselves in the foot when we don’t have older generations deeply invested in our lives. I think it’s no coincidence that just one verse down from the classic young adult verse, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” is “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the elders laid their hands on you.”

Have you invited any elders into your life to identify and affirm your gifting? If not, you’re just like a 7th grader asking another 7th grader for dating advice. You need people in totally different life stages to speak into your life. It’s difficult to grow up without grown-ups.

 

Do you have a diversity of friends and mentors?

Young people who have a diversity of friends and mentors tend to have a greater heart for the Kingdom. They have breached their camp, church, denomination, and race so they can experience the beauty of The Church rather than just a church. They seek first the Kingdom of God, not just their castle.

When we only stick around Christians we know, we all start to sound the same, act the same, dislike the same things, and value the same things. Worse, our hearts start to feel superior to other brothers and sisters in the faith who do not sound like us and act like us. But the main problem is that Jesus starts looking a lot like our group instead of our group being challenged to look a lot more like Jesus. Suddenly, Jesus despises the things we despise. Jesus is cool with the things we’re cool with. Jesus loves what we love. And He would do ministry the way we do ministry.

Yet, when we engage with Christians that are a bit different than us, we see that the same Jesus is also working in them and through them. We realize Jesus might be bigger than we thought. Maybe none of us fully have it right, but we’re all on the same journey to live like Him, look like Him, and love like Him?

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Do You Love The Kingdom or Your Castle?

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Do You Love The Kingdom or Your Castle?

pic - church colorful.jpg

I’ve noticed that many Christians and pastors who say they “love the local church”, actually mean, they love their local church. Or churches like their church.

No one actually thinks that way. We just act that way.

I know that’s a bold statement and it breaks my heart to know we’ve gotten so far that it could be true.

You may disagree. So let’s put this “love” for the local church to the test based off the Bible’s definition of love.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” | 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭4-6‬

– Are you “patient” with other churches?
– Would everyone say you are “kind” to other churches?
– Do you celebrate when other churches impact people more than your church, or do you “envy” their favor?
– Do you “boast” about what your church is doing that others are not?
– Is your heart “arrogant” towards other churches?
– Do you make “rude” remarks about other churches and pastors?
– Do you get excited about different forms of ministry that God is using to save people, or do you “insist on your own way?”
– Are you often “irritated” by other churches?
– Do you “resent” any churches that do ministry different than yours?
– Do you “rejoice” when a church you don’t like says something or does something “wrong”?
– Do you rejoice when the same church preaches “truth“?

When we let the greatness of our church hinder us from seeing the grandeur of The Church, we exchange unvarnished worship for unintentional idolatry.

Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” If we find ourself in a place where we say we love The Church, but our actions say we really only love our church, we should repent.

God is faithful to correct, encourage, and redeem us back to a posture of love, especially towards the household of faith.

Unity is not a burden, and it’s more than a command. It’s a gift.  Jesus promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against The Church. Not a church; The Church. So we can focus on our castle. Or we can seek first God’s Kingdom.

If you love the local church, how are you working with other local churches? Or better, do the unbelievers in your community confidently say your churches love each other and work together?

If not. That’s a strange way to love the local church. That wouldn’t fly in a marriage. You say you love your wife, you just never do anything together? You say you love your wife, people just never see you together?

The devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Lions don’t attack the pack. They attack the isolated.

So as long as The Church is divided, we give Satan a foothold in our ministry. But as long as The Church is united, even the gates of Hell cannot prevail against us.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” | John‬ ‭13‬:‭35

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Local World Changers

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Local World Changers

Every Christmas the world revives a classic movie that stars my all time favorite character: George Bailey. George is the main character of the movie, Its a Wonderful Life. The reason I love George Bailey is because he’s a visionary, he’s humble, he’s bold, he defends the weak, he loves people, but most of all, his life begs the best question for every Christian, “Are you living in such a way that if you were to have never been born, your family, friends, and city would be different?” For George Bailey, they weren’t just a little different. They were completely different. His city didn’t just like him. It needed him.

“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” (Acts 17:26-27)

God intentionally marked the appointed time you live, in the specific city you live in, among the people you’re around, so that you’d help people find God, even though He’s not far from any of us. Basically, God is already moving in your city, but He’s given you the privilege to join that movement. In essence, your city needs you.

A few years back, I met a man that spent over twenty years in Belize as a foreign missionary. In that time he helped plant over four hundred churches. Amazed by all that God had done through this man, I asked him a question, “What kind of advice would you give me? You, being a foreign missionary, and me being called to do local missions?” His answer completely shifted my idea of missions. He said, “I’m not a foreign missionary. I’m a local missionary, just like you. You have to become a local missionary to become a good foreign missionary.”

If you truly want to help a community, you have to become one with the community. You have to know what the people actually need for sustainable change. Not what you think they need. You have to know how the community can become a part of that sustainable change. You can’t be the savior. But most of all, you have to earn the trust of the community through sheer, unvarnished friendship. Essentially, even if you’re going to another country, you have to become a local. And the one thing that develops a foreign missionary into a local missionary is time and consistency. The saying is true: Nobody will care what you know until they know that you care.

The closer the mission field is to our front door, the harder it is for us to live unashamedly for Christ. But the farther the mission field is, the easier it is for us to be like Christ. Why is this? I think it all ties back to convenience, accountability, and a way of thinking.

It’s convenient when you know you only need to be like Christ on a Saturday morning at a homeless shelter or for two weeks at a Village in Africa, but the minute you’re told to share Christ with your friends or co-workers, you’ve immediately decided you’re inadequate. The sad truth is most Christians could never consider sharing Christ with their friends or co-workers because they have already dug themselves so deep into a hole of their co-workers viewing them as a Christian that goes to church, but not a Christian that actually lives for Christ. Let’s just say, to bring up Christ in most Christian’s local every day context, would be foreign.

Every year, hundreds of young people go to South Padre for Beach Reach, where they minister to people primarily there for the purpose of partying and getting drunk. And every year, God uses this ministry to reach countless people for Christ. The difficult part is hearing everyone talk about all the things they did in Florida to reach people for Christ, that are the very same things they should do in their own city. But instead of hearing, “I’m going to start living this way in my own city.” I hear, “I can’t wait to go back next year!” The statement that bothered me the most was someone saying, “I wish Beach Reach was every day!”

Fortunate for him, Beach Reach is every day. It’s called Christianity. Charles Spurgeon said, “You’re either a missionary or you’re an impostor.” It concerns me when Christians can’t be on mission unless they are far from home. It’s disheartening to see how many incredible Christians are dumbfounded by the idea that God saved them through Christ, but have yet to discover that God also intends to use them for Christ. You’ve been saved to save others. When the gospel terminates on us, we’ve received the gift, but we never opened it. The beauty of God is not only that He engaged sinful men with His message, but He entrusted sinful men with His message. Jesus came, He lived, He died, He rose, and told us, “Now, go change the world.”

Have you ever met someone through the internet, become pretty close, and then met in person and it was the most awkward thing ever? That’s what Christians are like. From a distance, we’re great, but make it an actual real life relationship, and we have no clue what to say or do. We’re awesome in other countries. We just have no clue what to do back home.

If we could just stop turning people into projects, we might actually have a chance at making a difference through missions. The fear of local missions is the accountability of making a commitment to a person or community, and not delivering. However, the benefit of local missions is the ability to not just benefit a person, but to actually befriend them. We have the chance to go from “See you next Sunday morning at the church” to “See you next Saturday at my house.” Bob Goff said, “I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be around them.” That’s different. People are not projects, and we are not their savior. That is good news, because it frees us to have fun and make friends.

I’ll finish with two questions. Who has changed the world more than any other person in history? I think we could all agree that would be Jesus. Now, for a man that so deeply impacted not just his own community but the entire world, how many countries did he travel to in order to change the world? Jesus invested most His time in one general area, but He changed the world. Jesus changed his city, and in doing so, changed the world. This should make us reconsider the priority we put on discipleship and loving our local neighbors. Jesus spent the majority of his ministry among the people we spend the majority of our lives trying to avoid.

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WHAT YOUNG CHRISTIANS ARE LOOKING FOR IN OLDER CHRISTIANS AND MY LUNCH WITH BOB GOFF

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WHAT YOUNG CHRISTIANS ARE LOOKING FOR IN OLDER CHRISTIANS AND MY LUNCH WITH BOB GOFF

I was at Starbucks the other day giving a friend advice on how to start a non-profit when an older gentleman overheard us. Intrigued, he asked us a series of questions about our lives and passions. Long story short, he was a pastor who was extremely encouraged to see young Christians following Jesus and trying to make a difference in the world. On our way out, he said, “Oh yeah! Last thing, what do you want to do with your life?” To which I replied, “I am going to change the world.” He chuckled, and looked at me like a father who looks at his six-year-old son after saying, “Daddy, I’m going to be an astronaut!” He wanted the best for me, but clearly thought I was being unrealistic. Seeing that I was unfazed by his evident doubt, he amused me with a follow up question, “So how do you plan on doing that?” I said, “I’m going to make disciples of all the nations.” He paused, contemplated for a second, and finished, “You know what? That’s a good answer.”

My issue with this pastor’s response is not that he personally doubts my ability to change the world. But he second guessed my mandate as a Christian according to Matthew 28. By changing the world, I don’t mean me leading the charge. I mean working together with an army of disciples, the church, who have an unswerving devotion to follow out the great commission. There will never be another one-man show like Jesus. That’s why it’s critical that the church as a whole is confident about our place and purpose in the world.

My generation is looking for older men and women that have the audacity to change the world and the guts to gamble on young Christians to join in the mission.

Changing the world is not a dream. It’s a command. It’s not a good intentioned fantasy young Christians have that fizzles out as they mature. It’s the vision and mission Jesus commanded as his final words to all who follow Him. I know there are staggering numbers on how the youth is abandoning the church, but I think the elders are abandoning the mission.

Why would a pastor chuckle at the mission of the church? Since when did changing the world become something that sounded great in theory, but unrealistic in practice? Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Young Christians think they can change the world, and they’re right. Older Christians think we can’t, and they’re right. If we can’t even fathom the idea, we’re not ever going to do it. You never set out to do a half marathon and luckily do a full. Jesus confidently trusted 11 disciples to change the world. We don’t even trust millions of Christians to do the same. That’s just bad math. The church needs to adopt God-sized dreams, not man-sized hopes.

Two years ago I got to see Francis Chan preach on this topic. I invited my mom and later found out she captured this incredible snippet from the sermon. It was a total paradigm shift for me. Until then, I had never heard an older Christian talk so boldly about giving it all for Christ, regardless of age.

In my opinion, these are six of the most influential Christian men above 45 that my generation looks up to. If you’re familiar with them, you know they are all fairly different in their own ways, yet young Christians love these men. Why is this?

1. It’s all about Jesus for these guys.

2. Cool is a byproduct of Christ for them. Young Christians value cool, but not at the expense of Christ.

3. They are unconcerned with the status quo. They are unashamedly who God made them.

4. They have the audacity to think they can actually change the world.

5. They believe in the mission of the church.

6. They value the younger generation, not as a reliable teammate on the bench, when the time comes, but as a key player in the game, right now.

That 6th point is vital for us. What makes the men above a little different is that they recognize the younger generation. Young people are often disengaged in the church, but I humbly want to say, maybe it’s because the church won’t actually let them engage. We are told the direction the church is going, but rarely are we at the table making the decisions. Or even hearing them. Why are more young Christians serving in non-profits than their own local church? Because the non-profits will actually let them play in the game. At our age, the country trusts us with a gun in the army, a non-profit trusts us with an orphanage in Africa, but the church will only trust us with handing out pamphlets on Sunday. Young Christians are not the answer, but they want to be a part of the solution. Rudy was by no means the most athletic player for Notre Dame, but when he was given a chance, he gave his all. Church, please gamble on us. Let us fail. Let us learn. And let us play.

Recently, some friends and I had the privilege to get lunch with Bob Goff and he said something we will never forget. Let me preface by saying Bob is a husband, a father, a national best-selling author, a speaker, the director of Restore International, a lawyer, a professor, and the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Uganda. Might I add, he’s 54-years-old. Baffled by his life, I asked, “Bob, how are you able to do so much? It’s inspiring, but I don’t get how you do it all at your age.” He immediately responded, “I don’t sleep.” We all laughed and he interrupted, “No. Really. I don’t sleep. Last night I slept for three hours and got my first call from Uganda at 5 in the morning.” He then gave his reason why, “I want to die exhausted. We have eternity to rest. Until then, let’s do things.”

That statement was so incredibly simple yet so incredibly profound for us. To this day, my friends and I will repeat that to each other whenever we feel too tired, things are too difficult, or our dreams seem too unrealistic. It wasn’t inspiring because he didn’t sleep. It was inspiring because he’s a 54-year-old man who would dare to sacrifice his sleep and comfort for a greater cause. I have never in my life heard an older Christian in my church say anything remotely close to, “I want to die exhausted” for the gospel’s sake. A statement like that is seen as irresponsible and audacious. But I think the church needs to redeem the word “audacity.” Sometimes, what the world calls audacity, God calls childlike faith. When Christians have outlandish, outrageous faith it makes cultural Christianity look boring. That kind of faith is contagious. And when it’s coming from an older Christian, it’s inspiring.

Steven Furtick said, “If the size of the vision you have for your life and ministry isn’t intimidating to you, there’s a good chance it’s insulting to God.” I promise you, my generation desperately desires to be discipled by older men and women that want to die exhausted because they know they have eternity to rest. So until then, let’s do things.

 
 

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Christians Make Buildings Churches. Churches Don't Make People Christians.

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Christians Make Buildings Churches. Churches Don't Make People Christians.

I’m going to cut right to the chase. Too many Christians are worshipping God like Old Testament Jews. We have this skewed view of church which is infecting everything. I know that’s a bold statement but I don’t think it’s an overstatement.

It all starts in Genesis. Ever since Adam and Eve’s rebellion, sin has placed a massive wedge between God and man’s relationship.

No sin is without penalty or punishment. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Notice how in the garden Adam and Eve try to cover their own sin and shame with fig leaves. But we always skim over how God responded to their clothing. “God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21). This is the first time we are going to see the bloodshed of an innocent animal. God killed an innocent animal to cover the sins of man. Sin destroyed the intimacy of God and man in the garden. Therefore, introducing the temple; also referred to as the house of God.

From then on the temple was the dwelling place of God on Earth. Isaiah 59:2 says, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you.” Because of sin, whenever God slightly revealed Himself to a person, the repercussions were far more dangerous than in the garden. So throughout the Old Testament you can trace a pattern of man sinning and God taking animal sacrifices to atone for man’s sin.

The Bible is laced with examples of God’s unswerving devotion and concern for His temple. In Jeremiah, God was angry that the Jews were building themselves nice homes but neglecting the temple. God told David he couldn’t build the temple because he had too much blood on his hands. One of the claims that infuriated the Pharisees the most was that Jesus claimed He could destroy the temple and build it back in three days.

So why does all this matter? What does sin, animal sacrifice, and the temple have to do with the church?

We’ve all heard “Your body is a temple.” Yet, contrary to popular belief, the least of Paul’s concern when writing this was to stop you from getting tattoos. This verse is far bigger than that. He’s literally saying that you are now the temple. And that changes everything.

When Jesus died as a permanent sacrifice, the curtain in the temple was torn, the altar for sacrifice was closed, the temple became his followers, and the church became a movement. In the Old Testament it was “God for us.” In the New Testament it was “God with us.” And now, it is “God in us. Your body is now the temple. You are now the dwelling place of God.

Don’t believe me yet?
 “Christ in me the hope of glory” | Colossians 1:27
– “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” | Galatians 2:20
– “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” | Ephesians 2:11

So here’s my question. Why are we still worshipping God like Old Testament Jews? Why is the church still treated like it’s a Sunday morning temple? The church is not an event, a time, or even a place. The church is a people.

Don’t hear me disregard gathering on Sunday. Gathering as a church body, living in community, and submitting to elders is not only essential, it is necessary. But church should never start or end on Sunday. It should be every day.

Christians make buildings churches. Churches don’t make people Christians. Do we really think God went through all the trouble of giving up his throne in exchange for a cross just so we could show up to a building on Sunday morning?Or as Leonard Ravenhill put it, “Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?”

Do I think God would die so I could go to church? No. Do I think God would die so I could be the church? Yes.Ephesians 3:10 says God’s “intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” So when I read verses like that and hear people say, “Church is kinda boring.” I always think, “I couldn’t agree more. You are boring! All you do is go to a building on Sunday. And now you’re just waiting to go to Heaven!” Show me a Christian that is bored in the church and I’ll show you a Christian that is not on mission.

– How does this change evangelism?

When I was saved at 16, I felt an unshakable weight for the souls of my friends. So I did what nearly every Christian does when they want to “share their faith.” I invited my friends to church. But only inviting people to church is a problematic approach to evangelism because we then put the full responsibility of conversion on our church, pastor, and worship to be savior. This explains why we get so frustrated when our friend finally comes to church, and lo and behold, there’s a guest speaker. As if God can’t move through someone else. But according to The Barna Research Group, 71% of Christians actually credit their salvation, not to going to church, but a personal relationship with a Christ follower. So they were experiencing life change, not by attending a church, but meeting the church. So the reality is this; your friends are not your pastor’s responsibility. They’re yours. You’ve been designed for personal evangelism. God’s plan is to use imperfect people worshipping a perfect God to display the grace of Christ.

One thing I’ve learned since I was 16 is that people don’t read the Bible. They read Christians. So we are the agents of change in our community. And in many cases, we are the only light in some people’s dark world. Good thing Jesus said, “You are light of the world.”

How does this change success?

Christian bubbles are paralyzing the mission of the church. According to The Barna Research Group, within only 2 years of conversion 80% of Christians have given up any real friendships with unbelievers. Essentially, we start loving God so much we forget to love people. In a sincere effort to grow in Christ while being sharpened in community, we completely drop the ball in the second greatest commandment; to love our neighbor. Ask yourself, “Do I really have any true friends that are unbelievers?”

I think Max Lucado caught the essence behind our lack of evangelism when he said, “If we’re not teaching people how to be saved, it’s perhaps because we’ve forgotten the tragedy of being lost.” Christian bubbles are not the byproduct of selfish Christians. They are the byproduct of ignorant Christians. We have forgotten and we are unaware of what it’s like to be lost. We must remember that we too were once enemies of the cross, living in a world without hope. Then church as we know it becomes a launching pad for Christians rather than a landing strip for unbelievers.  Mike Stachura said, “The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity.

Far too often we put everything we want and need in the church building, and ultimately turn it into a fortress. You no longer need to play sports with unbelievers. There’s a gym and field at the church. You no longer need to eat and drink with unbelievers. There’s a cafeteria and a coffee shop at the church. You no longer need to let your kids play with unbelievers.There’s a daycare and private school at the church.

But remember, Jesus tore down that type of temple. It’s interesting that the temple was destroyed in 70AD and has never been restored again, but God is still moving in incredible ways through the new temple, which is people. God purposely said “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” in Romans 10:15 rather than “How beautiful are the churches we bring people to.

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What Kind of Guy Culture Tells us to be and Why Ryan Gosling Isn't That Great

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What Kind of Guy Culture Tells us to be and Why Ryan Gosling Isn't That Great

I’ve narrowed it down to three different types of guys our culture predominantly tells us we should be like.

The Prolonged Adolescent: The Hangover

The prolonged adolescent is depicted very well in the movie, The Hangover. This guy is, according to Mark Driscoll, “A boy that can shave.” He is a man that is trying to prolong taking responsibility as long as possible so that he can remain young and have fun. Historically, there’s always been two stages in a man’s life; childhood and manhood. This had nothing to do with physical shape. It had to do with responsibility. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” In today’s culture there is this middle stage of life between being a child and being a man, and the last thing we want to do is give up our childish ways. This stage is often reffered to as adolescence. It is expected and even appreciated by most American families. It is the stage when a man leaves for college and does things such as, “walks away from the faith for a while,” “sows his wild oats,” “lives and learns,” and “learns the hard way.”  However, this stage of life, which shouldn’t be expected in the first place, is being prolonged even past college. I honestly don’t get why so many youth pastors act like it’s expected for their students to walk away from their faith in college. Why is that being preached? I mean why not walk away if you’re acting like it’s expected right? In many movies today there is this idea that you can proudly be this adolescent guy even in a marriage at the age of 40 (40 Year Old Virgin & Hall Pass). God has called us to take responsibility as men. There is no waiting until a certain life mark happens such as graduation, a professional job, marriage, or even retirement. Responsibility is something men must aim for as soon as possible. I know Call of Duty, ESPN, and Candycrush are cool and all but is it possible there are greater things to be done? Ed Cole said, “Maturity doesn’t come with age; it comes with acceptance of responsibility.”

 

The New Jock: Blurred Lines

Traditionally in America, in order to be a ladies man, you needed to be a jock. It didn’t matter if you were uneducated, as long as you were athletic and in good shape. Imagine Ethan from Lizzie McGuire. That guy was an idiot. But every girl liked him. However, I think there is a new kind of ladies man, which has less to do with physical build and more to do with confidence. Confidence is a good thing. Heck, it’s the reason so many good girls end up with bad guys; because the good guys weren’t confident enough to ask them out. The problem with a ladies man, much like the musicians in Blurred Lines, is that they change what it means to be a woman. To men like this, women are an object and a game. Worse, they don’t hide it and many girls go along with it. Girls that find their identity in the opinion of men are highly affected by men like this. They see the kind of girl that guys go for and they will change the way they look, dress, talk, and act so they can be like her also. Just look at the girls in this picture! That’s instegated by the approval of men, not women. Ironically, I think girls have more influence over guys like this than the guys have over the girls. The moment girls don’t let guys get away with their crap, these guys crumble. Lord willing, it forces us to mature.

 

The Good Guy: Noah

Let me start by saying that the previous two guys are promoted a lot more outside of the church, but this guy, he plagues the church. In my experience, the grand majority of girls I know date this guy. I mean why not? He’s a good guy! At least he’s not a bad guy! I guess the only problem with girls dating good guys is that we’re not called to be good. We’re called to be godly. So let me differentiate the two. One is a good leader while the other is a spiritual leader. One will go to church with you while the other is going to drive you to be more like Jesus. One passionately pursues you while the other passionately pursues Jesus. In the end, it all comes down to Jesus. I’m not saying godly guys are perfect. I’m not even saying good guys aren’t Christians. I’m saying, for godly guys, Jesus isn’t just some thing to them; it’s everything to them. It doesn’t describe them. It defines them.

I first realized how big of an epidemic this was a little over year ago. I shared a quote by Matt Chandler and it just blew up on social media. I couldn’t check my Facebook for a week because over a thousand people shared this picture, which just isn’t normal for me. The quote is spot on when it comes to “neat Christian boys” and godly men.

 

I thought Ryan Gosling was the perfect depiction of the good guy because he always plays that character in his movies. It feels weird to say something is wrong with Noah from The Notebook. But when you put things into perspective, his character is flawed as well. He lost the trust of Allie’s parents because he had her out too late, where he was actually about to sleep with her. He’s a drunk. When Allie returns, he has to break things off with a war widow he is sleeping with, which frees him up to cause an affair with Allie, who is caught half naked the day after by her mother. However, we skim over all this because he’s a good guy. I would even say he has good intentions. I asked a few girls that I respect what it is about Ryan Gosling and his characters that make him so desirable. Unanimously, they all agreed that the guy he normally plays always tend to have some big character flaw, but all that is overlooked because of one thing; he passionately pursues the girl he loves. So I guess the question is this, do girls want a guy that passionately pursues them or a guy that passionately pursues Christ? A man that is godly or a man that is good enough? I think Blue Valentine gives a good idea of what can happen when the relationship is fully based on each other rather than a foundation in Christ. In the moment it worked, but no significant other can hold the weight meant for God. Fortunately, there is a better role model for all this.


Jesus

This is the man we’re called to be like. Let’s be honest, this is not naturally desirable. It’s not popular, it’s not glamorous, and it’s definitely not easy. He was humble, he was strong, and he sacrificed everything. Jesus was marked by an unconventional, unconditional, unbelievable love this world has never seen before. He lived the life we were suppose to live and He died the death we deserved to die. Moreover, who models responsibility, confidence, and passionately pursuing someone more than Jesus?

This blog isn’t so much saying, “Don’t watch movies or TV.” But I think it’s very important to be cognizant of what image is being preached by pop culture. When I look at the types of guys our culture predominantly feeds us, I see parts of myself in all three. If we have a skewed image of what it means to be a man, it affects everything: our family, our friends, our future, our legacy. A man’s ability to lead a woman spiritually is completely dependent on his ability to follow Jesus. So ladies, don’t look for the man who will meet all your needs. Look for the man who will send you to the God who can. Because in the end, we can’t but He can.

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The Most Influential Person in Your Life

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The Most Influential Person in Your Life

The most negative person in your life is you.
The most discouraging person in your life is you.
No one has let you down more than you have yourself.
No one has talked to you and influenced you more than yourself.
You are the most influential person in your life.

So the question is this, today, will you decide to believe what you have to say about yourself or what God has to say about you?

Because regardless of how dirty you may feel, the last time I checked, God thought you were worth dying for.

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Abortion & Christians

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Abortion & Christians

Can I just say something on the topic of abortion and Christians?

As I’ve spent more time with organizations that fight abortion I’ve noticed that most are leaving the scare or guilt tactics to change women’s minds. Instead of emphasizing how terrible and gruesome abortion is, they focus on how beautiful and sacred life is. Just something to think about when confronting this topic.

The same applies to sin and grace. John Bunyan said, “It’s not acknowledging the overload of sin that saves a man. It’s the discovery of grace in the midst of his sin that saves him.”

Last week I met a girl that had her mind fully set on aborting her unexpected child but after hearing more and more about who was inside of her she could not help but want to be a mother to her new found joy. She said, “I walked into the clinic selfish and ashamed. I walked out of the clinic selfless and proud.”

As Christians, more important than focusing on why sin is bad is focusing on why Christ is better! In the same way, don’t focus on why abortion is bad. Focus more on why life is better! 

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Would You Want to Know Your Death?

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Would You Want to Know Your Death?

Have you ever seen Bigfish? It’s a movie. I saw it for the first time yesterday. In the movie the main character, Edward Bloom and his friends are kids and they find out how they are going to die later in life. Once they know, it terrifies his two friends. But Bloom says, “I mean, on one hand, if dying was all you thought about, it could kind of screw you up. But it could kind of help you, couldn’t it? Because you’d know that everything else you can survive.” He goes on taking every opportunity and risk, loves deeply, and leaves a legacy because he knows his future. 

“Coincidentally” I am reading through Psalms and today in Psalm 39:4-5 I read David say, 

“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”

My lifetime is as nothing before you? That doesn’t sound delightful at all. It makes me think I’m very insignificant….that we are all very insignificant. If I leave it at that, it should terrify me like it did those boys. But then I ask myself, “Do I know when and how I’m going to die? No. Do I know what happens when I die? Yes. Who I’m with when I die? Yes.” 

Knowing this should change everything. So much so that we don’t live safe lives terrified by death, but great lives terrified of not leaving a legacy. Yes, we are nothing before Him, but vice versa, He is everything before us.

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