Friday, January 11, 2013

Geographically Missional

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

I love sharing convictions.  This blog is a deep conviction I've been having for a couple of months now.  This will be challenging, and it may offend.  And I'll go so far as to say, good.  I'm glad someone else can share in this discomforting conviction.

So the conviction began one day last Fall.  I was speaking on stage in the youth ministry at my church and I just love how I feel when I'm on the stage.  I come alive when I'm preaching.  It's my form of worship, I love to proclaim the gospel.  And one night, God convicted me with the question,

Why do you only like to proclaim it from the stage?

"Ummm..I don't know."

But this question got me thinking.  One of my goals about ministry and living my life is that I do not want to be a pretender.  Like I don't want to be some hype man for Jesus, constantly screaming and preaching and sharing about Jesus but I don't know Him.  I don't want to be preaching things that I'm not willing to apply to my own life.  So back to the question.  Why do I only like to proclaim it from the stage?  If this is teaching scripture thing and preaching thing is my calling, then it's part of my identity, it's part of who I am.  So I should be proclaiming....everywhere.  Not just in certain situations or certain venues.  But everywhere.  Proclaiming the gospel should be who I am.  So this began to challenge me to consider some things.  I started to pray how I can begin to proclaim the gospel everywhere.  This isn't so much about evangelizing than it is just imitating Jesus, being the gospel for people.  Living with the gospel lenses.  Speaking with gospel centered grace and truth speech.  All these things.

Now for the issue.  My fellow friends and many fellow believers can easily fall into the category of being spiritual consumers.  We are so easily trapped into being spoon feeding sippy cup drinking Christians.  We love messages.  We have apps for that.  We love churches and conferences and small groups and we are constantly encouraging each other---guys please don't miss hear me, these are great things----but we can get easily content with our Christian bubbles.  And we start using language like "I have a heart for missions and we instantly associate mission work to overseas mission.  And I've noticed that people who go on mission trips have beautiful hearts and intentions to reach the lost, but prior and post these mission trips they lose their hearts for the lost.  What happens to us?  Our hearts get so stirred for the missions trips.  This overseas nation doesn't know Jesus, let's go minister and share and be lights to a dark nation, but we don't proclaim the gospel to our own friends?

What happens?  What is going on in our hearts?  We assume our friends know?  We assume the Western Culture is better off so they don't need Jesus?  Maybe we're resentful because we're so saturated with Christianity that we just assume people know they're just choosing to reject?  Or are we scared?  Are we afraid of something?  What's the fear?  What's the hangup?

It's easy for us to be geographically missional.  I can be passionate to seek and save the lost, overseas.  I love that Passion 2013 had an end sex trafficking focus, and I love that people's hearts were stirred for the cause.  But what I'm also praying for---is they DO SOMETHING.  4 days of consuming information from great speakers, great worship leaders pouring and leading college students into the presence of God, and I'm praying that many of them do not get back to the routines of college and lose the fine tuned focus of what broke their hearts at Passion.  I pray the comfort zones doesn't cause them to lose sight of the mission that was laid on their hearts.  When their hearts grieved for the ones trapped in slavery---that the frustration of tests and studying and boy issues and girl issues and leggings doesn't cause us to lose sight of the mission.

What happens to us?  Are our hearts really being transformed?  What happens to women when they go on mission trips and they wear little to no make up and dress extremely modest?  What happens to our hearts? When we go into these nations and cities and regions and we are here to serve and love but when we return to the states it's back to the normal frustrations of terrible customer service and road rage?

What happens to us?  Do we not know we are called to be ministers of the gospel where ever we are at.  Yes, some of you are called to be passionate about overseas missions.  But I bet if you're reading this, you're more than likely not there yet.  So what's keeping you from proclaiming the gospel where you're at right now?  If you're in Auburn, Alabama, or Detroit, Michigan----your mission field is right in front of you.  The same heart and motivation that gets you on that plane to travel miles to these regions should be the same heart and motivation that gets you to walk onto your job or in your class and serve and the love the people you come into direct contact with.

I am challenging myself in this.  I do not have it down people, so this is not in anyway pointing the fingers and telling you that you're not doing enough.  Even though you're not, lol, I'm not here to condemn you.  Here's some scripture.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.  So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:11

You are a minister of the gospel where you are at.  This does not say only in Africa and Haiti.  This implies that you do it where you are at.  if you're reading this in a public place, turn to your right.  The first person you see, realize that this person could be going to Hell if they died tomorrow because they may not know Jesus.  Just think about it.  I'm not pushing you to go say anything, but just think about it.  If you're alone, next time you leave your house, look at the car next to you at the red light.  That person could be going to Hell because maybe no one has shared the gospel with them.  I'm not saying get out of the car and do anything, just think about it. This 'exercise' or reality check is just a process to begin to transform your heart into thinking missionally all the time. 

Love you.  More than you know.  Thanks for reading.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You Have To Do Something With Jesus

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.  When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money,  telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ Matthew 28:11-13

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

I was talking to one my dear friends and coworkers about religion the other day.  I'm unsure of where she stands with the whole religious topic, but I do know that she has a background in the Christian faith.  So the comfort level was fairly high during this conversation.  Anyways, she expressed to me that she's been thinking.  Which instantly makes my stomach tighten.  "Please don't ask me anything that I can't answer about the Bible and make me question my faith."  I don't know why that was my first worry, but it was.  So she goes into her thought.  "I've been thinking.  That it seems that all religions are worshipping and praying to the same God.  I find that interesting.  Makes me think.  Ya know?"  I immediately scream "blasphemer!" and smack her----hahaha, just kidding.  I , however, found it interesting myself that the thought was presented, because I too have thought about the same thing.  But then God took over my mouth.  This is how I responded.

I yelled blasphemer and smacked her.

Haha, just kidding.  This is what I really said. 

"Ya know, that could be true.  But what I know separates the Christian faith from any other faith is that you must do something with Jesus.  There's historical evidence that He existed, which then makes you have to do something with the words He spoke, which makes you have to do something with whether He was either fully a liar or fully God in human form."

And as I said that, I stopped and looked at her.  And she was nodding in agreement, but I was more stunned at what had just came out of my mouth.  Because before that moment, I had never thought of that answer.  And it was good!  It honestly strengthened my faith, almost as if she had answered the question for me.  Then my mind went racing onto this other idea.

We sometimes like to suppress the truth in hopes of things going away. That's why I shared the passage above.  I'm sure it's safe to say that this could be why the chief priests had to devise that plan in the passage.  "We have to come up with something that doesn't prove Jesus is actually alive now.  Because if He is, then we just killed the Son of God."  Another example, this suppressing of truth is the active agent when let's say I have a sharp pain in my chest and I'm afraid to go to the doctor.  The truth of this sharp pain will require me to do something with it.  But if it stays a mystery, then I have control over it.  "Oh, it's just because I've eaten too many tacos this week.  Or it's probably from when my roommate punched me in the chest the other night.  Yeah, maybe that's it."  We suppress the truth in hopes of forcing things to not exist.  And maybe this is the working element in the atheist and agnostic faiths, that if God remains a mystery or doesn't exist, then I can control my destiny.  If God doesn't exist, then there's nothing holding me accountable for my actions.  There's no justice system.  There's no proof of right and wrong, good or evil.  But if He does...I have to do something with it.  I have to respond. 

You have to do something with Jesus. 

My point is this, that there is no gray area when it comes to this.  I'm sure many of you can agree with me that it's benignly insane and hypocritical to believe partially in something---because it's hard to know which to take seriously and which to not.  I mean, it'd be bad to ignore the wrong thing huh?

So since we have to do something with Jesus, we have to do something with the words He spoke.  Which then means we have to do something with the fact that He came, He performed the miracles, He died, and He rose.  We have to do something with it.

Here's what I suggest.


Believer and unbeliever, this is the foundation of the Christian faith.  This is why Jesus is such an iconic figure in the world and the faith.  Since it's true that He was born, which confirms what the prophets testified about the coming Messiah was true.  Which has to prove that His reason He spoke of for coming to this Earth was true, that it was to pay the cost of sin.  To be the sacrificial lamb of God, to save and redeem us.  So that our sins could be forgiven and we could been seen as righteous in the sight of God, holy and blameless because of what Jesus said His reason for being here was, and because the prophets testified of the coming salvation, because He born.

You have to do something with that.  There's too much active truth for you to ignore that.  This is a matter of life and death.  That pain in your chest could be more serious than you think.  Yes it could be just from an ant bite or a punch in the chest....or it could be signs of an approaching stroke.  It's too serious to ignore.

You have to do something with it.

You have to do something with Jesus.

“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. 32 He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! 33 Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. 34 For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. 36 And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”  John 3:31-36

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

Apologetically, I've been making fun of the people who enjoy posting "New Me in 2013" Tweets and Facebook posts.  But honestly, if you get me alone and get to the depths of my heart, I'm happy and encouraged by any level of hope.  Yes, hope can be placed in the wrongs things, but ultimately it's still hope.  We can deal with what people are hoping in, but at least their hearts are still hoping. 

But I had a thought last year, (see what I did there?), actually it was a few days ago, as I've been personally gearing up towards a new year and making fun of the people who do those silly Tweets. I love that they're excited about being able to start over.  I mean, let's think about it.  There is something very exciting and rewarding when we are approach something new.  When we're approaching a new semester, we "claim" that we are not going to enter into this new semester with the same study habits and poor time management.  We go shopping for new books and pens and tablets to get prepared for the new semester.  And as we enter into the new year, we're thinking up of resolutions and goals and going into the new year very positive for a clean slate.  And I was thinking about this,

God offers us NEW everyday! 

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.  2 Corinthians 5:17-18

I've listened to some friends and coworkers speak about their New Year's Resolutions.  And again, not to knock people's goals and ambitions, but it is always interesting to hear the list of things people say they are shooting for in the new year.  And I'm not going to go so far as to say that I do not make New Year's Resolutions, because I do, but what I am suggesting is that many of our resolutions require us to make heart change.  The one that really gets to my heart is when people suggest that they want to get back in church and get serious about God.  The hope is beautiful.  The fact that they're thinking about it is beautiful.  But it again shows the human condition that plagues many of us.  It's this lie, "I must be good before I can go to God."

"Let's wait for the new year.  New slate.  Haven't sinned greatly in 2013 yet, so God will want to see me in church."

Let me help you a little bit.  You'll never be good enough for God. Your understanding of a justice system is hindering you.  Many of us know we have sinned, and we know we deserve to be judged and sent to Hell.  I've heard countless people make jokes about God sending them to Hell because deep down they have this understanding that they should be judged, or this misunderstanding that the debt of their sins can't be forgiven.  And this breaks my heart.  That people don't have an understanding of the Gospel.  Where the Gospel screams that even though we are fallen, sinful, and not good enough, we're raised up, seen as blameless and holy because of Jesus.  And here many of us, would rather chain ourselves back to the law.  We have no understanding of the Gospel at all, and we go into the new year creating new laws for ourselves, only to fall short again.  Even though Jesus has freed us from the Law, we continue to shackle ourselves to things that are going to condemn us and cause us to live in shame, not realizing that the offer of salvation is our only true hope into the new year, which will drive us into our new lives.  So, I'm challenging you to walk into the newness of God.

I guarantee you that if we all would seek heart change instead of stricter disciplines, a genuine delight will develop in those disciplines.  You wanting to lose weight in 2013 may involve you seeking deep within yourself of why it's important for you to lose weight.  That your health is connected to you wanting to fit into that dress.  You being able to run with your kids, or to live a long and healthy life, is also a concern with you wanting a shirt that's tight on your arms.  Heart change.  And you getting back into church or getting things right with God, needs to happen that you understand first that things will be made right when you accept that Jesus is the only way things can be made right.  You having perfect attendance this year will not make you right with God.  You not partying until Spring Break will not make you right with God. It will only happen when you receive Jesus, who has made us right with God and now we can be made new in Him.

Here's the practical portion of the blog, or here's what I'm basically saying.  Let's remove the limitations of a yearly resolutions into pursuing true life change.  Let's get into what will help us to make these changes that we seek.  The hope of new is encouraging to us, but let's respond better.  Let's realize God is offering us new everyday.  Because there is no condemnation for those that are IN CHRIST, which means His grace and mercy is covering us as He is sanctifying us.  So friend, you will fall this year.  You will fail this year.  You will not succeed in all things.  You will fall short.  But God's grace is sufficient for you as you pursue holiness, which has to start and begin with Him.  So let's look into pursuing life long resolutions by seeking heart change by Him.  Respond to Him friends.

Respond to Him.  I guarantee you that He is ready to make you new.  You don't need success in your resolutions to be made new, He has already provided that way for you to be.  And it doesn't require you to keep anything.

So this year, breathe.  You're free to be where you are and who you are.  But challenge yourselves.  Let Jesus be your New Year's Resolution.  Through Jesus, you can be "New Me in 2013".

And some of you may have come to hear my New Year's Resolutions.  Sorry, didn't mean to preach to you today.  Here's mine.

New Year's Resolutions 2013
1.  Continuing to Love Jesus, Teach Jesus, Live Jesus.
2.  Serve harder.
3.  Love harder.
4.  Pursue harder.
5.  Graduate college.
6.  Finish the re-write of my book entitled Sweetly Broken.
7.  Continue pursuing a healthier lifestyle to encourage my family.  And so I can look good in the
     fashion style I want to be able to pull off. ;-)Win/Win.
8.  Read the entire Bible
9.  Grow in my evangelism.
10. Find my wife!   ;-)