Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Gospel Demands...Radical Sacrifice

I have been thinking through and meditating on Romans 12:1-2 this past week. I have always loved these verses because they paint a clear picture of what a Christian is supposed to look like. Verse 1 tells us that we are supposed to be a "living sacrifice". Verse 2 goes on to tell us to, "not be conformed to this world".

These are great ideas but I fear that many in the church today have missed what Paul is getting at. If you look at those in the church and those in the world, there is very little difference in the way we look. We have, all to often, become conformed to this world, with a little Jesus on the side. "American Christianity" looks completely different than Christianity in the past. We need to be reminded of what Jesus said the cost of following Him was going to be.

Luke 14:25-28 says, "Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 

This was Jesus' pitch to the people who were following him. Hate your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters and yourself in order to be a follower of Him. As if that wasn't enough he went on to say if you will not take up the most brutal form of torture, willingly, you cannot be his follower. 

This sounds distinctly different than "walk an aisle and pray a prayer" that we, for the most part, have reduced salvation to today. I am in no way saying that you have to earn your salvation. Jesus is not saying here that we must physically hate those who are in our families, but the love that we have for Christ should be so strong that any other type of love pales in comparison. There is a superior love that Jesus is calling these people to and that is a love for the Divine. The foundation of our satisfaction must be in Christ.

Our satisfaction should not be found in the size of our bank accounts, the size of our 401K, the grades that we make, the friends that we have, our satisfaction should come from Jesus and Jesus alone. Things will not satisfy; Jesus will. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fun with the Language

Do any of these get on your nerves like they do mine? I can't stand it when someone gets "are" and "our" mixed up when writing. It is almost as bad as people who don't know when to use "there" or "their". The English language is not that hard...

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I took a class this past semester with an amazing man of God, Alvin Reid. Dr. Reid would always say, "there is no way you can care about the many if you don't care about the one." I am seeing more and more that the church is in a great need of older, mature, Christians to mentor younger Christians. 

Titus 2:1-8 says, "But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us." 

This passage is a clear picture of a mentoring relationship that is taking place. Paul is urging Titus to teach the young men everything that he has been taught. He is urging Titus to have older women teach younger women. Titus himself was mentored by Paul. I tell you all this to ask you one question: Is there anyone in your life that you are trying to help "grow-up" into a mature believer in Christ?

I would love to see the student ministry here at Ridgecrest taken over by the mature believers in the church. I long for the day when there are volunteers who have a heart for young people who are willing to take a few out to lunch, take a few out to the golf course, take a few out shopping and just use their lives and their words to show how important Jesus Christ is in their own lives on a daily basis. 

If you are willing to do this, let me know either on here or in person. I can find some students who are longing for a meaningful relationship with an adult and get you together with them. If you want more information on this before you commit to it, I can provide that for you as well. 

I close with a simple prayer: Lord, I beg for Ridgecrest to have a Titus 2 type student ministry. I pray that you would tug at the hearts of our volunteers to be there for the students more than just during church times and on trips. I pray that they would be burdened for the students day in and day out and be willing to do something to help them grow in their walk with you! In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Family-Based Youth Ministry

Shay and I have been reading through a book together called Family-Based Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries. The premise of the book is that parents have such a large impact on the life of their kids that they should be more involved in their kids lives both during church and at home. I love my job and I love working with students but I know that I can only have so much of an impact on the lives of students because I only see them for a small portion of the week.

Parents have to take responsibility for their own children's spiritual growth. I know that I am not a parent yet so I can not give advice based on my own personal life but this book has great ideas that parents can implement to aid in their child's spiritual growth.

DeVries says, "We can find the primary cause of the current crisis in youth ministry in the ways that our culture and our churches have systematically isolated young people from the very relationships that are most likely to lead them to maturity. Granting our children the 'privilege of being left alone' has served, in part, to create a wholesale epidemic of adult neglect of the next generation."

Students need their parents to be there for them. They do not need to be "left alone". The biggest need of our young people today is to be taught how to be an adult by an adult. Peer to peer relationships are important while in middle and high school but the only way that a child will learn to be a productive adult is to be shown how to be one by one.

DeVries cites the results of a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse and says that teens are significantly less likely to be addicted to drugs and alcohol if their parents:

1. Are engaged in their teens' lives, including helping with homework or attending extracurricular activities.
2. Have at least five sit-down meals together weekly.
3. Attend religious services together with their teens.
4. Set curfews.
5. Teach their children that drugs and alcohol are dangerous and morally wrong.

These are not things that are hard to do. Parents have to make their kids a priority over their work and own personal lives if they want them to fall deeply in love with Jesus Christ. This should be the goal of every parent who claims to be a Christian.

Again, I know that I am not a parent myself but it is clear that children who have meaningful relationships with their parents are at a much lower risk of engaging in risky behavior.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yearning For More?

Yearn-- longing: prolonged unfulfilled desire or need

It is my conviction that we need more yearning after God in America today. One of my favorite songs is called Yearn and was written by Shane Bernard and Shane Everett. 

Lord I want to yearn for You
I want to burn with passion
over You and only You
Lord I want to yearn

In our culture today, people burn with passion over a number of things. If we were to get really honest with ourselves I seriously doubt that many of us would be able to say that we burn with passion for our Lord. I have recently graduated from Seminary and am seeking God's direction for my life. I am evaluating myself and my relationship with God in light of that and really want to know where God would have me serve. It is tempting to let my desire to do the work of God overshadow my love for Him. I pray that as I seek what God has in store for my life that I would never forget the work that He did for me in the cross. 

It is easy throughout the years to "get over" our salvation. Many of us have had a relationship with Christ for so long that we have forgotten or lost that yearning for Christ that we once had. It is my desire to see students and parents alike burn with passion for Christ once again. Evaluate your life...look at the things that you desire...are you really yearning for Christ? Do you have an unfulfilled desire to know Him more and more? 

The purpose of this blog is to encourage people to desire a deep and meaningful relationship with Christ. The church is full of people who have great intentions of getting to know Christ more but often feel they do not have the time to do so. One great way to learn more about Christ is to ponder great passages of Scripture. You can do so along with others by going to Shay's blog. I pray that the church would be full of people who have a passion for God that is never fulfilled! I pray that we are always Yearning For More...