What ever happened to hard work?
The generations have changed. There’s been a shift in our culture that is a bit discouraging. There’s been a shift from the gratification and tremendous feeling of knowing that you’ve worked hard in order to earn something to a lazy, entitlement, “you deserve a break today” mindset. We now live in a microwave, fast-food, streaming, 80Mbps, instant gratification, video gaming day and age where the goal is to work our way out of work; Friday night is the goal, lazy days on the beach are the goal, retirement is the goal. Many people have given up on work.
And it’s not just trying to work our way out of working hard in our jobs, but it’s extended to every area of life. We view work as something that only the lower class should do. Therefore we don’t put in the work of raising our kids, managing our finances, strengthening our marriages, and building our families. Work has quite literally become a dirty word, and that mindset Continue reading
Gladiator has to be one of the best all-time ‘guy’ movies. I love it, not only for the awesome fight scenes, but it’s also full of little nuggets of truth; and all truth is God’s truth. When Russel Crowe enters the coliseum with all the other gladiators, in his knowledge and experience of battle, he takes charge and says to the rest of them: “We have a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together, we survive.” When the enemy comes out looking to destroy them, a few decide to go off on their own and are immediately cut down. They obviously didn’t understand. But those who stick together win the battle and emerge victorious.
The same is true in life. That’s one of the reasons God created the church. Commitment to a local church is one of the greatest things you could ever do for your spiritual life. And when I say ‘commitment’ I don’t mean just Sunday morning attendance. But you have to get into a circle, a small group of some sort. I’ve known too many people who have sat in a pew their entire lives but are no closer to God than the day they walked in. Rows are good, circles are better! Continue reading
Have you ever wanted to quit anything? I have, many times. God (and my wife) knows I’ve wanted to, but over my seventeen years of following Christ the “q” word gets harder and harder to say. And here’s why: somebody else will always quit. There will ALWAYS be people who quit at their job, their marriage, their family, their God. But if everyone quits then where does that leave us? Continue reading
When Jesus called his first disciples to follow him, they dropped everything and followed. It was a radical decision, but vitally important if they were going to follow the One who gives life. What about you? If Jesus showed up at your door today and called you to follow him, would you leave everything?
Christianity is much more than just head-knowledge, knowing and believing the right things. Following Christ not only includes our head, but also our hands and our heart. If your faith in Christ doesn’t include your hands and your heart then it’s not Christianity. Jesus calls us to a life of commitment and change. He is our priority.
Am I truly willing to have my life transformed by God? Will I allow God to be God, or do I form and shape God into what I want Him to be?
Imagine James or John telling Jesus, “Sure Lord, we’ll follow you. But Continue reading
When we think of “hospitality”, what comes to mind? Entertaining family and friends? Martha Stewart? A painstaking chore? Something done by only a few, with no lasting consequences? Over the last few decades we have lost a Biblical understanding of the holistic impact of Christian hospitality. Martha Stewart didn’t invent hospitality. More radical still, she hasn’t perfected it either. Hospitality as presented in the Bible is not merely a practice. Instead, it is a way of life in view of the coming of God’s Kingdom.
Throughout the entire Bible God demonstrates and commands his followers to practice hospitality. Our English word “hospitality” comes from the Greek word philoxenia which is from two root words xenia meaning foreigner or stranger and the word philo which means love. In other words we are to show love to strangers, hospitality to others. So what do you do to show hospitality to others? How do you show love to strangers?
In his book Outlive Your Life, Max Lucado writes:
“Long before the church had pulpits and baptisteries, she had kitchens and dinner tables. Continue reading
My wife Deedie talking with Adley
On January 12, 2010 the small Caribbean country of Haiti was hit with a cataclysmic level 7.0 earthquake sixteen miles west of its capital city Port-au-Prince near the city of Léogâne. The world was shocked as reports came in of an estimated 316,000 dead and over 1 million now homeless. As the people of Haiti stammered to put their lives back together aid from numerous countries started to pour in.
Two and a half years later Haiti still struggles to get back to normal. This past month my wife and I traveled to Léogâne to help Samaritan’s Purse with the construction efforts of an orphanage that will eventually house and school 100 children. Continue reading
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Who really likes making them anyway? For some people they come naturally. Yet for others, a trip to the dentist office would be an easier endeavor. But we all face them. Every single day we’re each confronted with multiple decisions that have to be made. Some are rather simple like “Should I really brush my teeth?” While others, “Should I quit my job?” have a little more impact upon our lives. But regardless of what they may be, our decisions shape who we become as individuals.
As I sit in my office preparing to write a Father’s Day sermon I’m quickly reminded of all the decisions that not only fathers have to make but all parents. We are bombarded every day with decisions that not only affect our lives but the lives of our children and families. And I feel that because of society, when we as parents are trying to follow Jesus, those decisions become even harder to make. Though following Christ is filled with blessings and joy that I would never trade away, no one said it would be easy. But I find myself wanting what is easy. I wrestle with giving in to the easy road when things don’t go my way or what I expect to happen. Easy is always more comfortable and filled with less headache. But I have to stop and ask myself, “What do my kids see in my decisions? When I run from things that get hard and choose the ‘easy road’ what kind of character does that build in my sons or daughters?”
Fortunately, I’m reminded that Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:13-14,
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
A couple weeks ago I preached that if we are going to be a church that lives out the mission of God then we as individuals need to be first and foremost absolutely committed to Christ. If Christ is first in your life decisions become easier and the little things that bother you won’t matter as much. If Christ is first you will do things for him that you would never do for someone else. Even though others want to pull you over to their side of the road, when Christ is first, making the decision to choose the narrow gate, though it may seem harder, becomes easier because you know where it leads, and you, your family, and those around you will be better off because of your decisions.
If you’ve ever been rescued you know there’s no other feeling in the world quite like it. The exuberance, the gratitude, the enormous feeling of relief can be overwhelming. But in order to be rescued you have to be in need of rescuing.
The problem is many of us are in need of rescuing.
Some of us are lost and don’t even know it. Or we know it but believe the lie that dealing with it will hurt more than ignoring it. We’ve become master illusionists. We’ve learned how to patch duct tape on the holes in our lives in order to stay afloat. But our lives are nothing more than facades in which we hide behind our true selves, our brokenness, our pain and heartache.
Day after day we look for ways to pull it all together when actually we need to give up. Please, give up, quit the charades and let God rescue you! Throw the duct tape away and let His truth set you free.
What is the “church” supposed to look like? What is it’s function? And if possible back up your answer.
So how far is too far?
I was just working on this week’s lesson for our POINT 180 youth group which talks about “colliding” with other people who are not like us and the things we could possibly learn from them. So for an illustration I put together a PowerPoint slideshow with various ways the Christian world has taken everyday items and Christianized them. In some sort of an attempt to… (I don’t know, make money?) we’ve created an “us vs. them” mentality that only turns people against true Christ followers and Jesus. Are we really supposed to be marketing and capitalizing off of Christ and those who follow him? I won’t name names, but some denominations have tried that before.
The Christian has everything these days in order to keep oneself pure from the filth of the world, and it’s all working so well (insert sarcasm here): Christian music, Christian radio, Christian movies, Christian theme parks, Christian home decor, Christian water bottles, Christian board games, backpacks, jewelry, t-shirts, hats, silly bands, even car seat covers! The Christian music industry alone is enough to make my blood boil, but do we really need to play “Bible Scrabble”? What’s wrong with regular Scrabble? Are only the good words found in Scripture? I’m going to go throw up now.
Now, I may have gone a bit too far. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with Christian products. You won’t see me wearing a “God’s Gym” t-shirt or an ichthys on my car but I do enjoy my Christian music. But seriously, how far is too far? If Jesus came back I think he’d be incredibly disappointed.