Friday, October 19, 2012

Be Near

I started this blog almost 2 years ago with the lyrics of a Shane and Shane song. They are my favorite recording artists to listen to. Recently I was listening to their song "Be Near" and was really convicted. The lyrics say, "be near, oh God, be near, oh God of us, your nearness is to us our good." 

That should be the cry of our heart. We should want God to be near to us. The problem that I see today is that people do not want God to be near because they would have to change the way they live. If we lived our lives as if Jesus was standing right there next to us at all times, I guarantee that we would not do a lot of the things that we do. 

The amazing thing is that if you are a believer, God in the person of the Holy Spirit is right there inside of you and transforming you every moment of your life. God is near! I challenge you today to make every decision as if Jesus was standing next to you and see how different you would live! 

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One For The Parents

I believe that the best way to impact your students with the gospel of Christ is for them to see you excited about what God is doing in your own life. I have been encouraging your students to invite their friends to our events and that will continue when they get to school. I hope that they will invite their classmates to come and hear Jesus preached on a weekly basis and they will share their faith with those same friends.

My question to you is, do you show your children that Jesus matters to your everyday life? Are you talking to your children about the coworkers that you are sharing the gospel with or inviting to church with you? I really believe that I can talk to them week after week about living out their faith but if they do not see you living out your faith at home it will not mean as much.

I need you. Your children need you. I do not have the impact on your kids that you do and I need you to back what I am teaching them by showing them how it works in "the real world". Will you commit to making it a point to live out your faith infront of your children?

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Monday, April 30, 2012

Take Me There

Hey I don't know about you but I can wait till the day
When I'll be with my Lord and everything is ok
And I'll be just like him so sin won't get in the way
Basking in his glory that's where I want to stay

A place where shadows give way to the real
And circumstances can't change the way that I feel
Joy in my Savior that Satan can't steal 
Because he's been defeated- yeah you know the deal

-Trip Lee "Take Me There"

I don't know about you but those lyrics are a cry of my heart. I cannot wait until the day that I get to see Jesus face to face and spend eternity praising His Holy name. This should be the way all Christians feel. This place is not our home. The Bible tells us that we are made for something far greater than this world. 

Where is your heart? Is it focused here or is it longing for something greater? As we grow in our understanding of Christ and what He did for us our longing will be to be with Him. Pray and beg God to change your focus from this world to the next!

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

Monday, March 19, 2012

Behavior Modification

I am reading J.D. Greear's book Gospel at the moment. In this book he encourages the church to embrace the gospel, not just for the act of salvation but also for the act of sanctification. 

I have been thinking a lot lately and even talked through this with the high school guys on Sunday morning. Behavior modification, apart from a heart change, is not pleasing in the eyes of God. God is not pleased when we give money if our heart is not in the right place. God is not pleased when we come to the church building if our mind is not set on Him. 

We need a change of heart in order to please God. We need to remind ourselves of the gospel each and every day. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

You are part of God's Story

 Last night I began thinking about the fact that the people in the Bible were just ordinary people who God used to do extraordinary things. The 12 disciples that Jesus mentored were fisherman probably very young and may have even included some teenagers. They were not educated or anything special but Jesus chose them to change the world.

Even though the Bible is complete and what we do now will not be written in it, God's story is still not complete. Creation has happened, The Fall has happened, Rescue has happened for some of us, but Restoration has not. We have the amazing privilege to help usher in the Last Days when Christ will return! As the Story Guide says, "We are participants in the redemptive story God is proclaiming to the world."

How exciting is it that God has chosen to use us to reach the unreached? There are 2 billion people on this earth that have never had a chance to hear the name of Jesus. How awesome is it that you could be a part of telling them? If you can't go to them, how awesome is it that you could share the gospel with someone who could end up going to reach them?

The question to think about is this, are you living from the story you are writing for yourself, or are you living your life based on the story of God's redemption that is found only in Jesus Christ and the story that He has been writing throughout history?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Gospel According to the Hunger Games

Here is a blog post from Dr. Alvin Reid, my Student Ministry and Evangelism professor in Seminary.

You can find other great blogs by him at I thought this was too good not to repost on my own blog.

 When I say “the gospel according to the Hunger Games,” here is what I mean. Stories follow plotlines. Every movie Hollywood produces and every novel tells a story, and the story follows a plotline. Literary scholars tell us there are only seven basic plotlines. In the West, and in particular in pop culture, three matter a great deal:

One, a man falls in a hole and eventually gets out (epic, action films)

Another, boy meets girl and falls for her, it goes south, and then in the end everything works out for them (romantic comedies)

And one very popular storyline, rags to riches (Cinderella)

We love these stories. The reason: they follow a general plotline we all yearn to see happen.
1. Beginning: usually good, although sometimes (like rages to riches) it turns bad quickly
2. Dark Turn: misfortune, bad circumstances, a villain, etc, but things go badly
3. Rescue: a rescuer (in Disney this often involves a fairy godmother or magic) comes and saves the day
4. Happy ending: in virtually every case “they all lived happily ever after”

Does that sound familiar? Sort of like Creation, Fall, Rescue, Restoration.  Yes, the biblical plotline. Why do people want a happy ending? Because of what Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee”

This is beyond obvious in the Hunger Games (here is where I ruin it if you have not read it).  The story begins with a look into the life of the ultimate hero, a teenaged girl named Katniss as she describes her life in a new world in formerly North America many years in the future. From the start, something about this young lady compels you to know more, to understand her.

But very quickly you realize things do not go well for Katniss or her family. We see in specifically non-theological language the world of fallen humanity. The new world she finds herself in has been divided into 12 districts with a horrific “games” played annually. Each year, a young man and a young lady from the districts is “reaped” to participate in these hunger games, games in which these youth must kill the others until one survivor is left. Gruesome indeed. The prominent saying in the book is, “May the odds ever be in your favor,” i.e. may you never be chosen to represent your district. There is hope for something greater than the sordid world Katniss, her family and friends now endure.

This is the Lord of the Flies in reverse, because these games are premeditated by adult authority figures with a demented view of justice at best. The games intend to keep the districts in fear so they will not plan a rebellion. So the wonderful world has been shattered by the work of evil people, and youth are the victims. Depravity unleashed.

But there is a rescuer, the Messiah, well, in this instance the Mockingjay. I will let you read the story to see how it plays out if you must know.  But the ultimate outcome is this land called Panem is overthrown, the rebellion succeeds, and young people have been the key players in the story.

A perfect plotline for a Millennial generation consumed with justice issues. 
And, in the Epilogue, you find this rescuer named Katniss with her family, restored.

Creation. Fall, Rescue. Restoration. There is more: the sense of Providence, as Katniss from the most poor district actually became prepared for the games by her ability to sneak out and hunt, developng remarkable archery skills. Or the fact that she retains total unawareness at how winsome she is as a leader and how much hope she gives to others, her genuine humility being most overlooked in her personal self-awareness. Oh, there is also the stereotypical romance, showing the craving we all have for relationships. But my purpose is to demonstrate how a novel completely secular in vision, and filled with more than a fair share of violence, hearkens back to the very gnawing of every soul for a happy ending, for justice.

For rescue.

I am sure somebody will come out with some Christian subcultural version of a Hunger Games “Bible study” series. I would argue that the more you teach students (and all people) the wonderful narrative of Scripture, the bloody cross of an atoning Savior Who is our Rescuer at the heart, and how this affects all of life, the more they can see the truthfulness of it not only as they read their Bibles, but also as they read the literature of their times.

The Bible does more than offer tips on morality. It shows us reality, and how everything in life that we know to be virtuous and good and hopeful comes from the good news in the Word of God.

At the end of the third book Collins’ writes these thoughts of Katniss: “What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”

This hope is why books like this matter to people. But the gospel matters so much more

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Who is my neighbor?

Last night at Fuel we had a great reminder that we are supposed to show our love for God by the way we love our neighbor. Looking at Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 we saw that love for a neighbor involves more than just saying the words "i love you". 

After traditional Judaism missed two opportunities to help a dying man, a Samaritan stepped up to the plate and proved to be a neighbor. He sacrificed his own possessions and money to help a man he had never met. Jesus' listeners would not have missed the significance of what had just happened, and neither should we. 

The church today is looked at in our culture as being full of hypocrites. People who claim one thing but do not live it out. Jesus' point is simple. If we really love God, we must love everyone we come in contact with. Because we have been given mercy and compassion by Jesus when he died on the cross for us, we should show mercy and compassion to those in our lives.

What are some practical ways that you can show the love and compassion of God to those in your life? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Resolutions?

Now is the time of year that I hear a lot of people talking about what they want to change or accomplish in the next year. Most of the time these "resolutions" are kept for a few days or at most a few months. We live in a culture that most of the time does not keep commitments because we want to quit whenever things get hard. Whenever I hear someone talk about what their resolution is for the next year I always think about Jonathan Edwards.

When he was just 19 or 20 he wrote down a list of resolutions. These were not just things that he wanted to accomplish in a year, but these were lifetime resolutions. If you are looking for something that you want to accomplish this year, pick one and try your hardest to live it out. Better yet, challenge yourself that you are going to read over this list a certain number of times a week or month and actually stick to it. I really believe that with these things in your heart and mind you will be challenged to live for God every day.

There are a lot more but here are the first 10 put into modern english.

1. Whatever I do, I will do to give the most glory to God, and also for my own good and pleasure, as long as I live, no matter how long it takes to master. I also will fulfill my calling to do good to all mankind as much as I am able, no matter how much difficulty I face.

2. I will continually strive to come up with new ways to accomplish the things mentioned in #1

3. If I ever find myself becoming disinterested in keeping these resolutions, I vow to turn back as soon as I realize it, and do everything I can to remember and keep them.

4. I vow to never do anything, in thought or deed, whether it be a big thing or a little thing, except to do that which brings honor and glory to God. I will also stay away from those things that do not honor God as much as I possibly can, and whenever possible; I will try to put a stop to activities that bring God dishonor.

5. I realize the importance of the time I have been given by God. I vow to never lose one moment to worthless activities, but constantly think of ways to make the most of the time I have.

6. I vow to live my life with all the passion I can muster up until my very last breath.

7. I vow to never do anything that I would be ashamed of if I knew that I was facing imminent judgment.

8. I vow to live with the understanding that I am no better than the most wicked person to ever live. I vow to allow this attitude to remind me that I am constantly in need of confession and God’s mercy.

9. I vow to always remind myself that this physical life is temporary, and that death could come at any moment.

10. I vow, that whenever I experience physical pain, I will remind myself of those who are suffering for the sake of Christ, and also to remind myself of the great mercies of God which saved me from the justice of eternal punishment in hell. I do this to increase my compassion for those who need Christ and motivate me to share the message of the gospel to those that do not believe.