5 Ways To Build A Strong Private Life To Sustain A Stronger Public Life


There is a sobering leadership principle every leader needs to know. Often we learn it the hard way, so I think it might be helpful if I prepare you for it – in case you don’t know. The fact is:

Who you are in your private life impacts who you are in your public life.



These two parts cannot be separated from each other.  There have been many who have tried to separate these two and keep them separated, but the result is watching their whole professional world come crashing down around them, because of something which was hidden in their private life.  Many of us can recall leaders who have been significant to us publicly, but their demise was their private life.  You can try to manage two identities – pretending in public everything is okay in private. And, it might work for a time…but it never works long-term. 


Good disciplines bring each day opportunity while bad disciplines bring each day adversity.


We all have a public life to our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, social media followers, etc.    If we are to have an influence in these realms just mentioned, then your leadership comes with a platform.  There will be times you step on your platform and you will have the opportunity to make a difference with those around you.  Platforms are made for you to “step up.”  Some are bigger than others.  But they are made for you to be “elevated.”  To my introverted friends, don’t let that word scare you.  Sometimes that is a literal elevation as you step onto a stage.  But we have relational platforms that God gives us to inspire and influence those around us.   When you give your opinion, when you talk about your expertise, when you pray, when you encourage, when you talk about what’s in the Bible, when you reassure and when you give advice, you are being seen and heard by those around you.  And whether you want to believe it or not, you have an opportunity to influence; and that makes you a leader and leaders have a platform.  What I’m saying is, all of us have a public life that others are observing and being impacted by. 


And all of us have a private life…that we are impacted by.   This is the real you.  The collective whole of your thoughts, choices and values.  This is the real me.  It’s the “who you are when no one is looking” you.  UCLA Coach Wooden says, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”  We usually tend to be on our best behavior when others are listening and watching us.  But who we are when no one is watching and listening to us is where character comes in.  That’s why the value of living a consistent life of privately and publicly are critical.  Not just critical but inseparable.  It’s a medical impossibility to cut you in half and expect both of you to live.  You can’t be separated from yourself.  The private you and public you are forever joined together! And how you navigate these two areas are massively critical to your personal, professional, relational and spiritual success!


Who you really are will ultimately be discovered.  Jesus made that clear when He was speaking with His disciples,


 “For there is nothing hidden which will not be disclosed” – Jesus (Mark 4:22)


The only real, sustainable solution to having a successful public life is by continually working to protect and improve your private life. Your Inner world is not meant to disqualify you.  It’s always meant to define you.  The inventory of your personal mission, vision, values and virtues form the true you the world is waiting for.Character isn’t formed from options but from opposition (because we tend to take path of least resistance versus most resistance).  If it’s hard for you right now, that’s a good thing.  If this self-examination is hard then you are in the right place and the right time right now.  Here’s 



Here’s the big question for you and me: 


What in your private life has the potential to sabotage your public life? And, what are you going to do about it?




5 ways to build a private life to sustain a stronger public life:







ONE.  If you don’t believe it privately, they won’t believe you publicly.


Conviction is everything.  That’s why defining your values matter when creating a strong private life.  You will always make decisions based on what you value most.  When you identify your values, you identify your choices.  If you privately value honesty, then you will publicly choose to not lie.  If you privately value respect, then you will publicly choose to esteem those over you, etc.  What you value shows me what you believe.  What you find worthless you will ignore it. Make a list of what you personally value and use these values as guiderails in your decision-making. 


Discover your virtues.  Your virtues are what you find morally excellent and what you would celebrate as an admirable quality in a person.  Make a list of people in your life who have virtues that you would describe as a “good quality human being.”  Then write down what is it in them that put them on their list.  Those qualities are also virtues you are not only drawn to but are in some way important to you. 


At the center of the crossroads of your virtues and values is your convictions.  In the center of your passion about it and your actions towards it are your convictions because of it.  Your conviction will always be the evidence of what you really believe.  Use these convictions as guiderails to live a consistent life and be the example God is calling you to be.


“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12





TWO.  Your reputation is who you are in the presence of others but your character is who you are in the presence of God


We put a lot of emphasis on our reputations. Why? Because we all have one.  Your reputation is the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something.  There is a public opinion about you whether you believe it or not.  And unfortunately, we care about that opinion. We care about what others think. It’s human nature so you’re not alone when you feel the pressure of what others think about you.  

Secret devotion is rewarded in the open.


We can easily go to Jesus and look at people thought about his reputation. Jesus had a reputation to some that He was part of the family of Mary and Joseph, a rabbi and the Savior of the world.  To others, He was a false prophet, a liar and a friend of sinners.  Jesus chose to make Himself of no reputation.  See below, 


“[Jesus] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”  Philippians 2:7-8 NKJV


When it comes to reputation, He chose to not allow what others thought about Him to control Him.  That’s why Jesus did something that we can all do as we are learning to align our public and private life: He valued what God thought about Him and His ministry more than what the others thought about Him and His ministry.  In the midst of an itinerary going from city to city speaking, feeding the homeless and less fortunate, caring for family and friends, He chose to value the presence of God more than the value of the presence of others. We are reminded of the instances when the disciples were looking for Jesus so He could step onto his platform and be the leader, be the communicator, be the bringer of ideas, be the leader, etc.  But when they were looking for Him, He wasn’t to be found.  He was with God.  It says in the Bible, 



‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 

Mark 1:35-37




 Jesus gave priority to his private life by valuing the presence of God more than the presence of others.

 Jesus gave priority to his private life by valuing the presence of God more than the presence of others. An indicator of building a strong public and private life is having a quality prayer life. Get alone with God. The needs of the people around you will always be there.  Those closest to you will always want you close to them.  The demands of the busy life will always beckon to you.  But Jesus understood that the pressures, the opinions, the harassment, the needs and the mission were dependent on aligning his private life with God.     




THREE.  There will come a point when God’s private intention for you moves to God’s public recognition of you 


There is an intense intentionality to your private life that God values. And I’ve come to realize before there is a public recognition of you there’s always a private intention by God to make you into who you’re supposed to be. The intentionality that God is giving to your life can seem like there’s no intentionality to it at all.  As a matter of fact, it can feel like it’s random that is happening to your life than reason.  But it’s the times when we have it the hardest, when God is speaking the loudest.  Or when we are in the obscure and seen less, that God is with us the most and is doing His best work in us and through us. 

You don’t have to be the casualty of your circumstances but instead, be the creator of your circumstances. 


The battles to overcome seem to be the battle of the mind and the heart. David battled bears and lions in private.  In the field alone.  The ferocious and fiercest battles we face will be the ones we face by ourselves.  When no one is home, when you are away, when no one is looking and when no one is there to help.  These wrestling matches bear the scars of these ferocious battles that sunk their teeth into your soul.  You asked for help and it didn’t come.  You prayed to God to take away the wild beast the seemed to circle you and that was planning to pounce at just the right moment only to find that your prayers didn’t seem to be answered.  You fought anyway.  You battled anyhow.  And you have the scars to prove it.  But while you ponder and ask the question of why I had to battle alone, you realize now, that those scars and those victories were necessary.  Because when you face the giant in front of you in front of others, you are reminded of what you learned in secret, alone with no one there to help you:  God helped me defeat these beasts when I was by myself, surely I can face this giant in public. 


34 “David replied to Saul, “Your servant has been a shepherd for his father’s flock. Whenever a lion or bear would come and carry off a sheep from the flock, 35 I would go out after it, strike it down, and rescue the sheep from its mouth. If it rose up against me, I would grab it by its jaw, strike it, and kill it. 36 Your servant has struck down both the lion and the bear. This uncircumcised Philistine will be just like one of them. For he has defied the armies of the living God!” 37 David went on to say, “The Lord who delivered me from the lion and the bear will also deliver me from the hand of this Philistine!”  - 1 Samuel 17:34-37



David’s platform was in front of Israel.  And when he faced the pressure of fighting the giant in public, he remained standing while Saul crumbled under the weight of it. The result was a platform that echoed, “Saul slayed his thousands and David his tens of thousands!” (I Samuel 18:7).  Slaying giants in front of others could only be accomplished by fighting bears and lions alone.  The battles you face in private gives you the strength to win in public.  




FOUR.  Secret devotion is rewarded in the open

Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” The purpose you give to your prayer life, your quiet time and your devotional life has an outward effect on your public life.  Being by yourself with God has an effect on your inner man like nothing else can.  The more secure you are with God the less insecure you are with people.  So, get comfortable with your creator.  Find that place with God not because you “have to” but because you “get to” be with the one who loves you most.  



The word “closet” that Jesus uses in Matthew 6:6, tameion, is defined as a “secret chamber”, a place where a person may retire for privacy, or a place for storage (like a closet). These concepts unmistakably emphasize that this place should be private and cut off from the comings and goings of the household. It should be a place where the world can be shut out. And in a hyper-connected world, the need for a place that is “cut off” has never been more relevant.  Because privacy fosters honesty, and honesty fosters relationship.


Goals are good at revealing designations but habits re best at giving direction.


In this part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking about outward righteousness and inner righteousness. He speaks of how the Pharisees pray out loud, in public, so that people will see their “spiritual awesomeness” and be impressed. Jesus says that “they already have their reward” (Matthew 6:5), meaning that praise from men is all they will receive for this action. Jesus, in contrast teaches his followers to “go into their closet” to pray, so that they will receive no praise from people. If no praise is received from people, then our reward is from the Father instead – a much better reward! Your secret devotion removes the “trying to impress” element with others, working the room to “schmooz” and positioning yourself at the table to be noticed by the right people.  When you begin caring more about what others think about you, you end up caring less about what God thinks about you.  IN the Secret place, the only one that notices you is God.  The only voice that you need to hear is God’s.  And that’s all that matters.  



Five. Collect an arsenal of habits

Leaders have platforms because they have fought to get there.  These kings and queens frequent the blacksmith shop of their own kingdoms where they’ve been forging and sharpening into strength in the heat and in the smoke of the fires of their own public pressures collecting weaponry to add to their own leadership arsenal.  Because the time will come when the enemy of your private life will attack you, your values, your relationships and your future and you need these weapons to stop this adversary dead in its tracks.  This collection of protection and security that you have at your disposal is this:  your habits.  Becoming the best version of yourself in your public life requires you to be continuously refining your private life.  And the best way to do that is with your own personal disciplines.  You don’t have to be the casualty of your circumstances but instead, be the creator of your circumstances. 



Your habits matter because they help you become the type of person you hope to become.  They are guiderails to your private life to help you develop the deepest beliefs and convictions about yourself. Here’s the point, you become your habits. These disciplines become who you are; they become your identity.  James Clear from Atomic Habits, puts it this way, 


“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.”   -James Clear


Obviously, it goes without saying, that the more positive disciplines you develop, the easier it becomes for you to do the right thing. Because when your behavior lines up with your identity, you stop trying to become the person you wish you were, and you start acting like the person you believe you are.


Goals are good at revealing destination but habits are good at giving direction. If you are the sum total of the 5 people you spend the most time with, you are also the sum total of the 5 habits you spend the most time doing. Good disciplines bring each day an opportunity while bad disciplines bring each day adversity.  Every good habit you start and keep is a small move towards the person you hope to become.  A very miniscule changes in direction leads to a very meaningful change in destination.  It’s not one single instance but these daily choices will continue to move you closer and closer to becoming who you know you are. 


No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13


Any thoughts you have?




How To Live Less Emotional and More Truthful


My son and I were on the edge of the river bank on the St Croix.  We decided to yell out the first thing that came to our minds.   While my son yelled, “Go Vikings!” … I yelled “Dad’s awesome!” I suppose I could’ve yelled, “Jesus Saves” but apparently I was way to impressed with my hiking skills and leading my son to a breathtaking moment he will cherish for the rest of his life (he doesn’t even remember this memory…I asked him).  My point:  what you say (or scream on a river bank) literally impacts what’s around you.  Literally.

Here’s what I mean… 


Take for example an echo.  An echo is made by a sound being bounced on a solid. Sound can be reflected and refracted (or bent) when it collides with something. You then hear the sound repeating itself, getting fainter and fainter and it repeats as it’s bouncing off other objects in its path. Those words my son and I spoke on the banks of the St Croix, left our lips and was heard by and hit.   The sound waves that came from what we were saying (or screaming) have real results.  What we say has an impact.  Our words matter. 



We release sounds. More importantly we release words. Words are used to communicate. Words can build people up or tear people down. Words can divide or they can unite. If you have been around the leadership spheres, you have heard this phrase:




Words create worlds.




What we say about ourselves, about others and our organizations create the culture that are living in and leading from.  Your words create your conditions.  Your vernacular creates your environment.  As a communicator for a living, I have to listen to what I am saying so that I am creating a community that is lifegiving and not self-defeating.  As a theologian, I have to be aware of my words and what I am sharing with others because inaccuracy in what I am saying should be corrected.  We do have a responsibility to listen to what is being said and challenge what is being said around us.  To be listening to phrases that culture grabs on to and won’t let go of. 



In 2018, Oprah Winfrey received a lifetime achievement award in the 75th Golden Globe Awards.  Many people look up to Oprah.  She is a shining example of success and a very powerful woman.  She is an icon for many women who hope to achieve greatness and become powerful themselves. When she speaks about what is a “powerful too”l in her toolbox, many are all ears.  In her acceptance speech, she made these comments, 



“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have…” 





The most powerful tool we have is speaking … your truth. Don’t get me wrong, we love Oprah.  After all, she is “America’s life coach.”   But even Oprah can get it wrong.  Let me be blunt…DID getting it wrong.  The “echo” of Oprah’s words are reverberating through the culture: the most powerful tool you have is “my truth.”

Maybe you have already heard or seen those phrases in our culture: “That is my truth,” or “know your truth.”  That phrase has been since repeated by many and is used to justify a lot of feelings, beliefs and ideas that aren’t helpful and in many instances are even more hurtful and harmful to others.  As Christians, this phrase is one we cannot keep perpetuating.  It seems to be one of those phrases that has caught on, one of those phrases that people use without even knowing why they are using it. 

During a time in culture when being tolerant and understanding with others is expected, it feels uncomfortable to say “don’t speak your truth.’”  It seems unacceptable to have me question this cultural phrase of “speak your truth to power.”  After all, if this is my truth, shouldn’t I be able to speak “my truth?” I am writing this to say that this phrase that seems to make sense and that is very personal to say, believe and use is actually … NOT TRUTH.  



This begs the question:  



What is truth?  



In the Bible, Pontius Pilate, asked the question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea from A.D. 26-36, serving under Emperor Tiberius. He is most known for his involvement in condemning Jesus to death on a cross.  Pontius Pilate is not a fictitious character in the Bible.  But is mentioned by Tacitus, Philo, and Josephus who were famous historians outside of the Bible. Not only that, the “Pilate Stone,” discovered in 1961 and dated c. A.D. 30, includes a description of Pontius Pilate and mentions him as “prefect” of Judea. 


 Pilate and Jesus come face to face with each other…and with the idea of truth in their modern world.  The Gospel of John offers some more detail of this discussion, Jesus’ trial, including the conversation between Pilate and Jesus. Jesus acknowledges Himself not just as a king but who also claims to speak directly for the truth,


36Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

37Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

38“What is truth?” Pilate asked. John 18:38. 



Pilate responded with the famous question, “What is truth?”  Jesus confirmed it many times through out Scripture and most importantly with His famous words found in John 14:6,


“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  -John 14:6







The Bible is the truth.  Jesus always spoke the truth.  And they both continually tell the truth about God, about man and about evil. As Christians, we are meant to communicate the truth of Jesus Christ to a hurting and broken world.  And not just a world in chaos, but a world under the influence of a personal enemy that is constantly affecting us, hurting us and lying to us.  If the opposite of truth is a lie, and Jesus is the source of truth, then it seems to make sense that there is a source of lies as well.



There is an enemy that stands in opposition to our souls. This enemy is named in the Scriptures as the devil. The devil is known for a lot of things and named a lot of things in the bible:  the enemy (Matthew 13:39); satan (Revelation 12:9;20:2); Devil (Matthew 4:1, 5, 8, 11, 9:32); the accuser (Revelation 12:10); one name that speaks to this context that stands out the most is the name: “the father of lies” (John 8:44).  



A quick study on the devil reveals to us that he was originally called Lucifer, a reference that occurs only in Isaiah 14:12. Lucifer can that means "morning star.”  Lucifer, before receiving one of the many names listed above  (e.g. devil), was one of several created spirit beings in a class of angels known as Cherubim (Ezekiel 28:14). His initial responsibility was to cover God’s thrown. When Lucifer rebelled against his Creator, God rejected him and cast him from heaven (Isaiah 12:12-15).  An angel that was once, one of the most beautiful and honored in heaven becomes one of the most ugly and dishonored.  Then God then makes man who is one of God’s premier creations and makes them to rule over everything:


what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
    human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You gave them charge of everything you made,
    putting all things under their authority—  Psalm 8:4-6


Instead, giving man exactly what the devil wanted:  power and authority



And this very enemy, and all of his legions of fallen angels (1/3 were cast out of heaven who joined Lucifer in this rebellion interpreted in Revelation 12:4) will do anything to bring as many of humankind with him. 


Why am I expounding on this story specifically?  Because Lucifer is named by God in the Bible as the father of lies. Because the greatest threat to the truth of Salvation and and our eternity with Jesus is the lies of the enemy.  The first time that man had to make a choice between God’s truth and the devil’s lie, he believed a lie instead of the truth. When Adam and Eve rejected God’s truth and accepted the devil’s lie, that was the moment that all the troubles of the whole world began. 


You have the same option.


When you are faced with a decision, to make a judgment call, to decide on a moral dilemma, you have the same ultimatum to discover:  is this a truth or lie?  Siding with truth will always confirm Jesus will and future for your life.  Our sinful nature often sides with the devil’s lie instead of God’s truth, because we are sinners. We’d rather believe the devil’s lie than God’s truth. But Jesus wasn’t afraid to call Satan what he is: a liar and the father of lies. Jesus said,


 “There is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).


Again, if the opposite of truth is a “lie” then it makes sense that if Jesus is the ultimate truthteller then the devil is the ultimate “lie carrier.”  This begs the question:  in a world of opinions, fake news and deception from both the natural and supernatural realm, what is truth?


Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). He said, “I am … the truth.”  Jesus did not say, “You shall know a truth” or “any truth” but “the truth.” He’s the embodiment of all truth. Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). If you don’t believe that and don’t accept Christ, the truth is that you will die in your sins and you’ll be lost. Jesus Christ claimed to be ultimate truth. In a world that is adopting the idea that we are free to believe, speak and live from “my truth”, are we open enough to believe differently and be willing to face the truth?




Three Ways to Life Less Emotional and More Truthful:


Decipher the Difference Between Truth and Opinion

Truth is a powerful concept. When you hold a belief as a truth it can be a source of strength, motivation, even comfort.  But there is a difference between truth and opinion.  Here are a few:  


+ Truth refers to something that can be verified vs opinions refer to judgements or beliefs about something


+ Truth is shown with unbiased words vs opinions are expressed with bias words


 + Truth is objective reality vs opinion is a subjective statement


 + Truth is universal but opinion differs from person to person




While, there are multiple ways to express the truth, but there is still one truth. Declaring something as “my truth” gives the inaccurate and unhelpful perception that truth is changing, that truth is not a constant and inevitable reality we must respond to. It does not help people but hurts them as we are left without anything consistent or trustworthy on which to stand.  


For example we build our whole mathematical system on the fact that 2 + 2 = 4.  We may want it to be more, feel it should be more but it will never, ever equal 5.  Just because I insist something is true for me or “my truth,” does not mean it is “the truth.” There have been plenty times in my life when I have believed something as true for me but it was not actually true.  There was once a time when I was emphatic that Santa Claus was real. No matter how much I was sure this jolly, saint was sneaking into my house with presents, there came the reality when I was in 5thgrade (I was a late believer) that my parents finally told me the truth (even though I told the guys at my lunch table that they were lying to me.  There was “no way” that my parents were actually Santa Clause. I mean sure my dad was overweight but to have the superpower of making animals fly and travel at 5, 083,000 mph to ensure presents delivered by morning was not just crazy…it was a dream come true. My parents are super heros.  Awesome!


No matter how much I believed Santa was the one putting a few presents under the tree for my brother and I, it was always “my truth” it was never “the truth.” 



Start desiring God’s truth instead of designing our own

The desire to hold to “my truth” is not a new desire. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we can insist it is our right to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  We have the mental capacity as grown men and women to decide what is right and good and what is not. But by doing so, we place ourselves in the position of defining truth. We are not the creators of truth, and we should not act (or speak) as if we are. As Christians we believe that He is the true. And as Christians we must be consumed with Him and His truth and not our own.

Even hearing the world “half-truth” is an interesting word we have created in our culture. It’s a word that we have designed. A half truth is “a statement that is only partly true, especially one intended to deceive, evade blame, or the like; a statement that fails to divulge the whole truth.” A half of a truth is like watching 1/2 a movie and leaving in the middle. I think films are modern day parables. I think the movie theater is on many occasions the modern day “stained glass window” telling us stories about forgiveness, redemption and love (with of course some great CGI and amazing fight scene choreography). But what I hate is leaving a film in the middle. I have NEVER done it. Even it it’s a bad film. I can’t leave and walk out in the middle of it. I can’t. I have to know what happens. Because I don’t like the thought of imagining what could have happened to the character when all I had to do was stay another 35 minutes. What you think the ending should be.



What I love about being a Christian is that I don’t have the pressure or the confusion to build my life on “my truth.”  This gives me freedom!  I am free from the stress of trying to make my purpose.  I am free from trying to figure out what happens after I die.  I am free from constructing my own fragile reality when God has shown me what real life is like through the lens of Scripture.  I am free from figuring out what my future could be with my own limited knowledge and understanding when all I have to do is surrender and trust a God who knows every day of life before I ever lived it (Psalm 139:16).




Stop Living According to How You Feel Because It’s Not Always Truthful

Facts and feelings are at odds on a regular basis.  But feelings can’t be the driving force behind our decisions, our actions and our beliefs. Reshaping your life around your feelings will result in a fragile life that can switch direction on a dime (if it’s raining, if your computer crashes or if you stayed up too late on the weekend). Life was never meant to be built on the fragility of emotions.  Because how you feel is not always how you are or who you are If my feelings line up to what the truth of my situation…then those moments are treasured. But we have to be mature enough to differentiate when my feelings aren’t in alignment. True life is meant to be lived by embracing the truth (even when it’s uncomfortable and doesn’t feel good), God’s truth helps us to understand the complex reality of the world we live in which is essential to functioning as a human.  



Feelings come across so genuine. Feelings usually feel so authentic. Feelings are so strong and they get us so emotional. They are so vivid. They seem so tangible. They seem to validate who I am and what I am doing, which makes them easy to trust.

But they are also misleading.

There are days and seasons when you feel like you love your spouse and then there are days when you don’t feel it, because life happens. You have to clean the house, you have to go to work, you have to change a diaper, you have to pay bills, you have to get up early or you are running late, you are short-tempered, you haven’t seen each other in a few days … and the grind wears on you.

Ask me if I love my wife like I did on our wedding day when we are in the middle of a fight, the answer would be “not feeling it.” But ask me if she is the love of my life on our anniversary and I would say “YES!” before you can finish the question.  But here’s the truth:  we are legally married and have been for over 22 years.  Even when I don’t feel like we are married, we are!  The truth is I have a legal obligation to my wife, my kids, my whole family. I chose Heidi when I feel like it and I choose her during the times when I don’t. I will always choose her because the truth is: we are husband and wife till death do us part.  I can’t let my feelings dictate my marriage, instead I let the truth of what a marriage covenant is remind me and compel me to live this truth every day.  I can’t fall out of love with her because I never stumbled into it. The truth is, we chose each other to love each other the rest of our days.   My emotions don’t disqualify my marriage when it’s tough, but my emotions do affirm my marriage when we are close.

The struggle for The New Young Christian is just because you I feel it’s right, it must be true.

That’s emotional living.  Emotional living doesn’t tell the truth. Emotional living wants your emotions to speak first and then let truth back up what you’re feeling. Living by the truth of Jesus inspires you to rely on Scripture to confirm and affirm the truth of any and all situations. Emotional living leads you to believe that the only tangible and reliable evidence of truth is your tears, your joy, etc. Just because you I feel it strongly confirms this must be my reality. Living according to the truth means understanding that what you feel right now is not always what is actual.



Paul was a theologian in his day who cared deeply about sharing the truth of Jehovah. He held onto it so tightly and believed so much in preserving his “theological point of view” that Paul would say, 

Believe in “my truth” or be killed. The choice is yours.  


To be exact, Paul said in Acts 22:4


“I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison…”

Another case of being sincerely wrong.  


Paul came face to face with Jesus and exchanged “my truth” for “the truth” that Jesus died and was resurrected. Paul became a carrier of that truth.  That that truth became “my gospel” in the Scriptures:



If there is an argument to be made for having “my truth” then let it be found in being declared as “my Gospel.”   2 Timothy 2:8 the Paul calls the good news of Jesus “my gospel”: 


 “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel” – 2 Timothy 2:8



He was personally impacted by the gospel.  The Gospel or the “Good News” of Jesus Christ saving him from His sins, was carried deeply and held tightly by Paul to the end of his life.  But unlike “my truth,” the phrase “my gospel” was not a phrase about Paul’s ability or his self-reliance. He was not declaring a path for himself.   He was not differentiating himself from others as if there was one gospel for him and another for someone else (see Galatians 1). Contrastingly, Paul viewed himself as a fragile jar of clay holding the real treasure – the Good News of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:7).  Which is how we must view ourselves – fragile and dependent on Jesus and “the truth” which is more liberating than the pressure to discover and declare “my truth.” Let’s silence the echo of the fake truths in our lives and shout from the top of our lungs the Good News of a good God who has a good future for us all. Because that’s the truth!

Anything you would add?


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Creating a Life-giving Community That You Will Love


What you surround yourself with matters. Who you surround yourself is important. As humans we are expected to grow: physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, etc. Just like seeds that need good soil, we need good environments to grow in.

Jesus was clear that unless a seed is buried in the ground and sprouts and grows, it is nothing more than just a singular, granular lifeless entity that has no significance that produces nothing (John 12:24) -like that random penny you find in your couch which you look at and think "I guess it's got potential but by itself this penny can't do anything for me by itself sitting next to a bobby pin and a forgotten lego. Seeds need soil. Period. Jesus loves soil. Period. Jesus spent more time talking about soil than seed which means a healthy environment, surroundings and culture is more important than you think.

Our soil (dirt, y'all) is powerful. Soil sustains life by helping seeds become plants. Soil provides food, water and air that is needed by plants to grow. The healthier the soil, the more nutrients a plant can soak up. The healthier the plant, the better the fruit. In our natural world, the quality of the soil ultimately affects the health of people and animals.

If you want authenticity…you have to go first. That’s not easy. When I am meeting someone, I like to ask questions of them because when people talk about themselves they walk away having a more meaningful experience with you. That’s easy part and the first part. Once you realize you have a connection, it’s important to make that connection authentic and that happens when you choose to “give them the gift of going second” as you are the first to “open up.” So as a creator of connection, builder of community, a leader of leaders, you have to take that initiative.

Authenticity dismantles who others want you to be and enhances who you’re supposed to be.

Community without that natural chemistry is forced, mildly boring and lacks energy. So as the one “reading this post” you now have the responsibility to cultivate authenticity with your relationships. You are charged with helping others tear down their walls, to lower the drawbridge and to let others in. You can be a castle that’s closed or you can be a greenhouse that grows. Authenticity grows you to becoming a better Christian…a better human being.

So the question to ask your community is this: Is this a safe place for me tobe myself? Because the most authentic you is the you others are longing for and what God is waiting for…. Authenticity dismantles who others want you to be and enhances who you're supposed to be. So be vulnerable. Vulnerability says I accept you before you accept me. Authenticity starts when you become vulnerable in your relationships. When you choose vulnerability you choose community.

So stop self-protecting.

Allowing ourselves to truly experience our emotions is a beautiful thing and is the first step toward becoming a well-rounded and emotionally balanced person. It’s hard for people to see what a complete mess underneath while at the same time showing my cool exterior. But as I got older, I realized that being transparent with the people I care about is a true joy that many miss out. Instead of the freedom to be ourselves, we instead try to re-adjust ourselves according to who we think people want us to be.

Here’s why this is wrong: Everyone is deserving of unconditional love. This is the love of God so we need this, it’s the kind of love that we were made to contain. When we hide the things about ourselves we deem “undesirable,” we’re building shaky relationships that eventually collapse because they are build on a façade and not a foundation.

Authenticity dismantles who others want you to be and enhances who you’re supposed to be.

That’s why authenticity is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. Someone who is not authentic can still be a leader and connect but will not add value to our community. A person who connects and cares authentically adds value to their community by making a positive contribution. The biggest blockage to this authentic community is self-protection.

Are you building barriers of self-protection or creating communities of authenticity?

Here are a few thoughts to get you thinking:

Self-Protection is rooted in fear and results in hiding vs authenticity is rooted in vulnerability and results in originality 

Not everyone will like you. This was hard for me to realize because I thought I was a pretty likable dude. But that’s part of life I guess. But those who do like you will like you best when you are truly yourself. Sometimes we don’t’ want o to be caught being yourselves” because we fear others may not like what they see. So we chose to hide it from others until it’s “safe to reveal” the our true selves. That’s why sincerity and originality seam to go together. I live in MN and there’s nothing like walking on a freshly snowed sidewalk…not just hearing the crunch against the silent snowfall but walking and making prints of my own. Herman Melville says it this way,

“It’s better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation. –Herman Melville

Originality isn’t an option but an obligation. David couldn’t wear Saul’s armor so why are you modeling someone else’s? David learned that lesson. You be you and you do you. Because your community needs it.

Self protection controls situations vs authenticity celebrates people 

Fear is controlling. And fear can permeate a situation quickly. But it can be conquered by authenticity. When you are authentic, you are showing others who you are and that’s a good thing. When you become yourself in front of others you celebrate yourself for the benefit of others. Authenticity dismantles who others want you to be and enhances who you're supposed to be. And that takes courage. Courage is comes from the latin word Kerr which is where we get the word “heart.” Fear is overcome when the heart of the person is revealed ad to others. You can’t make everyone happy…that’s never been your job. But you can make people better. Imitating others makes you a copy of others around you but the real you makes others around you complete. Seth Godin says it like this,

“Because, while we're each unique, we have far more in common than we're comfortable admitting. Amplifying our differences may make us feel special, but it's not particularly useful when it comes to getting better. ... Being unique is a great way to hide from the change we need when someone offers us a better future. Learning from the patterns and the people who have come before, though, is the only way any of us advance. “-Seth Godin

True community requires authenticity. And you can’t express authenticity without others. So ask yourself…how can you leverage your nique qualities to add value to others in your community?

Self-Protection wastes emotional energy vs authenticity creates relational connectivity

Your iphone has only so much memory and your emotional capacity has only so much energy. When you pretend to be someone who “has it all together” or try to be “the charismatic one or popular one”, it drains you and and isn’t sustainable. Give yourself permission to be yourself and you will enjoy being yourself.

Spiritual growth is not only a mark of Christian life but a necessity of Christian life. If you are the same person you were last year at this time...then you have some spiritual "growing up" to do. Becoming more like Jesus is our mandate. Loving God and loving others is our marching orders. So why do we lack spiritual growth at times in our lives?

Community life is something that should be a "no-brainer" for Christians. Yet, it is always seems to be a challenge for churches. So here it is: you need others. Your origin story is found and bound in your relationship with God. Genesis 1:28 confirms this when God says, “let us make man in Our image.” God is confirming the truth that "this is US" is better than “this is me." Your tribe makes you stronger. Your friends make you better. Every word they say, every value the cultivate and the culture they create are influencing you. For the better and for the worse. Your community is shaping you whether you believe it or not. They are molding you whether you want them to or not. Show me your tribe and I'll show you you're trajectory. Show me your friends and I'll show you your future. Show me your community life and I'll show you your spiritual life.

How to tell the difference between someone giving you an opinion vs wisdom: opinions fuel judgement but wisdom fuels guidance.

Others are necessary for spiritual life to even exist. It’s hard for you to be seen and heard by GOD in your life when you are desperate to be seen and heard by OTHERS in your life. If your community is making it hard for you to be accepted...then a change of community will mean a change of spiritual growth for you. You need people for your spiritual life to exist. Not just anybody..but a community that is centered around the love of Christ. A community centered on the attributes of Jesus means it's a community that is practicing unconditional love, forgiveness, radical acceptance of those who are different, a heart for serving others, etc. Yet, it seems we choose to put more value on our "alone time." I understand we need time to chill and decompress but that should not be our normal. Someone recently said to me, "I only can get close to God when it's completely silent with no one around." I understand we need alone time with God but that was never meant to be our only time and place for an authentic encounter with God. God uses your community to speak from. For example, if you're not hearing from God like you used to be, check first to see how isolated you are because it's in community where God often speaks. God will use the prayers of people around you to release miracles in you. God will inspire the worship around you and to reveal who God is to you. God will use the Bible spoken from others to you to declare God is for you.

You can’t authentically encourage someone when your proud because it means you’re too focused on being better than that person than trying to better that person.

Maybe that's why God puts such a massive emphasis on covenant. And maybe we need to revisit that word again. The Bible uses the word "covenant" when speaking of the value of others in your life. Generally a covenant with someone means that you feel you need them because without them you feel lost because with this covenant we find ourselves connected to each other so that we can accomplish more. Without you I can't. Without you I won't. So we choose to enter into relationships that are not meant to be broken...this is a covenant. That's why in the Bible, covenants were sealed with an animal sacrifice to show the severity of our bond of "we don't give up on each other unless one of us dies." That's commitment. It's a commitment to say I need you. It's a commitment to say I need others in my life because I can be more and do more with you. It's not about needing the right people to help you accomplish something it's more about having the right people help you become something...becoming a stronger person in our faith, in your families and in our workplace.

Discover who God is and you discover who you are but bury God and you bury yourself.

We live in a society that defines us by our work and values us because of our accomplishments. That compels us to fall into the trap of doing more work and doing better work versus becoming a better person so my work can become better. Your job isn't walking down a "career path" but discovering who God made you to be and be the best version of you to others for 40+ hours a week. This is what your community should do...help you find yourself. The quality of your work will increase when the quality of your relationships increase. The right people surrounding you helps your perspective get better, your contentment stronger and your influence greater. Not only that, but your measure of success purer. Your definition of success changes from what I want to accomplish in life to who can I raise up in my life. True success in life is not measured by the number of promotions before me but the number of successors coming after me. Trust me, the older I get, the more it seems the most important thing I will accomplish will be who I raise up in life and not what I do in life.

3 Questions to ask yourself about your spiritual growth:

1.  Can you be yourself in your community?

No one can worship God like you or for you. Being yourself is what God is looking for and what the world is waiting for. If you can't be you, then you are robbing your community of the value you can bring and robbing God of an opportunity to show off his creative work. Remember, we are God's artwork, created in Christ, to do good works that God set up beforehand so we can walk in and "me do me and you do you." (Ephesians 2:10) Your community should be excavating and unearthing what God put in you before you were ever born (Jeremiah 1:5-7). Be in a community that pursues God and challenges you so pursue God. Discover who God is and you discover who you are but bury God and you bury yourself.

2.  How mature is your community?

Spiritual maturity is giving to God and others and not getting from God and others. Valuing others before they value you creates an environment for everyone to be included. Being the first to forgive than "waiting" for an apology is what your friends need from you. Cultivate being a vulnerable person because vulnerability says "I accept you before you accept me." Be teachable and stop resisting sound correction because they are calling things out of you because they care. God says it best here,

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:9-11

3.  Do you feel better when you are in your community?

The key to this is does your community encourage each other? To encourage someone means to "in-courage" or "put courage in" others. I've realized first-hand that you can't authentically encourage someone when your proud because it means you're too focused on being better than that person than trying to better that person. Condemnation is one of the worst things for a community. Shame keeps you and everyone in your community from moving forward. Jesus showed this to a community of pharisees when they were going to punish a woman who was in adultery. He didn't condemn her or shame her but spoke wisdom. Your community isn't free from those in it making bad decisions. Your relationships around you can give wisdom or give opinions. How to tell the difference between someone giving you an opinion vs wise counsel: opinions can fuel judgement but wisdom always fuels guidance.

Jesus understood being devoted to a community of people was enough to change the world so...how intentional are you with the community God has given you?

Any I'm missing?

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Making Your Life Less About Opinions and More About Convictions


Grateful for Rob Ketterling and allowing our pastoral team to preach this weekend at River Valley Church. I had a great time preaching about the power of the Word of God in a disciple’s life. As Christians we battle between faith and feelings, authority and apathy, obedience and convenience, etc. Particularly one contrast that is notable in most disciples is conviction versus opinion. Convictions are part of the Christian life. Jesus came to bring conviction to help us live and love as His followers (John 16:8). Opinions are part of a human beings life. So much information produces so much opinion about so many things. That’s why differentiating between conviction and opinion is so important.

Conviction is defined as a “strong persuasion or belief.” It’s the state of being convinced. It comes from the Latin word, “to conquer.” Contrast that to opinions. Webster’s says opinions, “lack certainty.” Put it in a metaphor: opinions are the scrawny guys in the gladiator ring of mind. They aren’t sure of their victory, have minimal weaponry and have no grit for the fight. Think Korg from Thor, “ I'm kind of like the leader in here. I'm made of rocks, as you can see. But don't let that intimidate you. You don't need to be afraid…

I'm kind of like the leader in here. I'm made of rocks, as you can see. But don't let that intimidate you. You don't need to be afraid…I tried to start a revolution... but I didn't print enough pamphlets so hardly anyone turned up. Except for my mum and her boyfriend….” Opinions are Korg’s in your brain. Convictions are conquering warriors in your brain. They have the weapons, the strength and the power to win the battle of the mind to help you make the decision necessary for your life to align with the life of Jesus. At the center of your values, passions and actions is conviction. Conviction gives you the strength to accomplish “the impossible” regardless of what others think. I guess you could say that conviction is the “muscle tissue” of your beliefs. Every fiber of your being is in alignment to the movement of your beliefs making. Opinion is the evidence of what they believe but conviction is the evidence of what YOU believe. Conviction transforms you from having a good idea to becoming a good example for others to follow. No matter where you find yourself in life, what changes people and the world around is your example and not your opinion. A disciple chooses to build their life on convictions instead of opinions.

The Difference Between Convictions and Opinions:

Opinions fuel judgement but convictions fuel guidance

That’s the difference between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation and shame will always tell you who you aren’t. Conviction will always tell you who you are. That’s why shame is a “counterfeit conviction.” Plain and simple. Shame remind you that “you aren’t enough” but Jesus always reminds us that “He is enough.” Condemnation says you are a bad person and attacks your identity and God’s identity. But conviction reminds you that you are still good (“a child of God”) and that God is good. Opinions can confuse identity but convictions always confirm identity. Choose to attach our identity to something that cannot be taken away. Connect your identity to something (your faith, your cause, your family, etc.) that can’t be stolen by others. Your identity should never depend on the opinion of another person alone. That’s why social media comments or popularity are not reliable or sustainable. I love that Mary chose the one thing that couldn't be taken from her and that was her connection to Jesus.

But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42


Opinions cause you to drift but convictions anchor you to truth.

When your “convictions” change on a whim, people will begin to lose their trust in you. They’ll never know where you stand. That’s the great thing about convictions.They tell others what you believe and what you won’t tolerate. It’s also why convictions are crucial. By changing your convictions based on what others believe, you have a harder time standing firm. Doubts flood in and you have a difficult time making the hard choices in life. You seek answers from others, not because you’re looking for the right path but because you want the approval of others.

Convictions are like those bumps on the road when you are road tripping. The journey is long. The landscape begins to get boring. The scenery begins to all “look and feel the same.” You get bored. You get lazy. You get sleepy. When the journey is long, the scenery is dull and the destination is knowhere in sight, that’s when we drift. And suddenly, in the midst of your monotony, you hear that sound:





You are jolted away, get your bearings, adjust to your surroundings, get back into your lane and continue forward. Once drifting, lethargic and unconcerned, now attentive, awake and alive to get to where you need to go. Conviction is that “VER-VER” in your spirit that causes you to take notice of what is being said, heard and believed. It compels you to adjust your thoughts, insights and beliefs back onto the “narrow road” of faith that’s found in Jesus.

You can follow people’s opinion about your life or you can follow God’s direction for your life

It makes all the difference between surviving and thriving. CONVICTION will make you courageous and opinion will make you complacent. When you are complacent, you can become sedated enough to miss opportunities right in front of you. Convictions gives you the shot in the arm to wake up and see what’s in front of you so you don’t miss it. Like Redbox. When you spot a “Red Box” in your city, it becomes a cheap entertainment oasis in your neighborhood. Frequent trips to this cheap and convenient media hotspot is a gamechanger. But it could have been a “blue box.” Not red. Blockbuster was once one of the most well-recognized movie brands in the 90’s. At its peak back in 2004, the company consisted of approximately 60,000 employees and 9,000 stores that generated revenues of $5.9 billion.

Back in the year 2000 Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix, approached former Blockbuster CEO John Antioco and asked for $50 million in return for the ownership of his company. Antioco however, viewed Netflix as a “very small niche business” and promptly ended the negotiations. Andy Stanley says vision is “a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be.” Conviction helps you stay on track with the vision God is calling you to. Conviction gives you direction to choose what is valuable over what is comfortable. Blockbuster had man opinions: Netflix wasn’t valuable, Netflix was “just a dvd mailing service, Netflix wasn’t going to anywhere. The company now has a market value of $67 billion. In other words, opinions make you digress and convictions help you progress. Opinions make you digress but convictions help you progress. Don't let other people's opinions chip away at your confidence. They may not sabotage your confidence Right away but it will chip away at it. The young leader has to do their best to not be ruled by what other people think but instead be ruled by what God thinks. You'll get opinion from everywhere. THE OPINIONS OF WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT YOU IS NOT MATCH FOR THE MIND OF CHRIST IN YOU. That mind comes from confiding in God, trusting in God with your calling and your future. The danger is once something is chipped away at it enough, it has potential to be discarded. But God says this:

"Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised (Hebrews 10:35-36)




How To Live In and Navigate Through Outrage Culture - Part 2


 Engage with maturity don’t expel with immaturity  

It’s hard when we don’t get our own way.  My kids have taught me that.  They throw a tantrum, hit, throw and scream.  That’s what immaturity fosters.  Maturity provokes civility, conversation and peaceful discourse.  When we choose to riot, rebel and resist, it communicates a message to others that is immature.  God wants us to be mature as Christians.  Not just mature but “Christlike.” 


For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 1 Peter 2:21-23


It’s tempting to bully behind your keyboard and tweetstorm.  But it would be far more valuable to donate your time, financial contributions or professional skill-sets to an organize your community (life group, small group, facebook group, book club, etc) and find where you can be a resource of information and a steward of conversation. Many people feel like they can’t get involved because they don’t know where to start. Just find a door of opportunity and start the conversation.


Instead of creating walls, create opportunities

Jesus chose to go into difficult places, not avoid them.  He was seen with the marginalized, the broken and the hurting.  He was a friend of drunks, sexual deviants, outcasts, etc.  He was more pro-woman than any political figure in history considering the context of the first century.  He was more “politically right” with his beliefs about Scripture, loving the religious, supporting the Roman military and leading with charity.  He also was more “liberal” with the way He chose to love:  Jesus fed the hungry, reached out cross-culturally, identified with the poor, loved the religious and fought for the outsider.  , etc.  He chose to live by breaking down walls.  When we break down walls and come together with those who are different than us, we show the world that we are His disciples and that Jesus is who He said He is (John 17).    


Live in the “in-between”  

We know a lot lately about not wanting to live in the “upside-down.”  But do you know about living in the “in-between.”  The in-between is that space between the extremes  of faith and politics.  Here’s what I mean.  Take Matthew and Simon.  These are two of Jesus disciples.   Jesus recruited Simon the zealot (essentially and anti-government, religious radical) to be on his team and Matthew (a pledged allegiance to the Roman government employee).  Jesus showed us all that two people on polar opposites of the political spectrum can live and love in community together.  We will always be surrounded by these two sides: those who “share my faith but don’t agree with my politics” and those who “share my political view but don’t agree with my faith.”  How you live in-between will determine how you honor. 


“Pump the breaks” on conditional honoring  

We are quick to dismiss others who don’t agree with our political views, parenting views, etc. We seem to have drifted into a conversational norm of “ I will respect you if you respect me but if we disagree then ‘screw you.’”  People are going to disagree with you.  Simply writing them off and calling them a name or putting a label on them doesn’t make us better as a community. Just because you don’t agree with them doesn’t mean they aren’t human.  God wants us to honor all people (1 Peter 2:17).  Honor is not emotional response but is meant to be a humble response.  Even Jesus who was being dishonord by everyone around him who was deserving of honor but received none, chose the higher road and we should too:


“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names.” Philippians 2: 3-9


Submission to authorities not subversion of authorities

Imagine being forced to live under a political leadership you didn’t vote for and completely despised.  Some of us would say, “lived it for 8 years” and some would say “living it right now.”  In Daniel, four young and ambitious leaders found themselves living under and working under an administration that was different than what they believed in.  The administration was enforcing rules that was against the convictions these young people believed.  Rather than rebelling and resisting, these young people took a different approach:  they honored their leadership about the expectations, the rules and regulations they didn’t agree with: 


[Daniel] asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. …Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable (Daniel 1:8-9, 20).


The result of responding the right way gave them more political and relational clout than they ever could have imagined.  Instead of just protesting and screaming at the sky, what if we chose to have rational discourse with those in charge over us?   We may have the right to protest, but is it the right thing to do right now in your disagreement? 

Put Yourself In Someone Else’s Shoes

Many of us don’t know what it’s like to be going through what they are going through.  We don’t knjow what happening behind the scenes.  So do your best to gain understanding.  That’s wisdom according to God: 


“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7


So try to understand where the other is coming from.  This will not only build a bridge but will help calm the waters as you empathize. 



Before You Say it, Pray it

I’m guilty of just speaking what I’m feeling.  Before you engage with someone or in something…give it some time in prayer.  It’s there you will get God’s heart for your situation and for that PERSON.  It’s a lot easier for you to see where they are coming from when you see how God sees them in prayer. 


It’s Not About Being Political but Being Gospel

Gospel means “good news.”  So be a bringer of “good news” not “bad news" or "fake news."  You can’t have the Gospel without grace.  We need the graciousness of God.  So be a gracious person.  Graciousness is one of the most potent postures you can make when engaging with others.  We believe graciousness overrules combativeness at the end of the day.  The Bible says this about graciousness,


“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”  Colossians 4:5-6 NLT

I would define graciousness as this:  having a forgiving attitude and a compassionate position while walking in wisdom with those whose attitudes and beliefs differ from yours.   So be gracious towards others than being defensive towards others.  


Gain Understanding

Conflict is rooted in not understanding where others around you are coming from.  So when a conflict arises, rather than trying to "gain understanding" we instead are trying to tell them "what's going on."  Stephen Covey speaks to this in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when he says, "seek first to understand then to be understood."  So guard yourself against assuming because when you assume you cease to draw close because you "already know" their thoughts and motives and remain at a distance.  If you're going to assume something...assume the best about that person and not the worst!  When you believe the best about someone you can't help but draw closer and draw from them. 



Consider Others Better Than You

Remember … according to Jesus, everyone has equal value.  No human is better than another. That's a hard attitude to have and to be  consistent with.   But Jesus held true to that by having this attitude:  consider others better than you.  The Bible says it best in Philippians 2:3-6 in the Message:


“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges.”  Philippians 2:3-6


Have Conversations Not Confrontations

We’ve seen enough confrontation to last us a lifetime.  So let’s start having conversations.  That means it is a two-sided dialogue.   So be a "potent listener."  Listening shows more power and grace than you can imagine. We have to listen in order to be listened to.  Which means don't come in to the argument simply telling me just what to think or what you think but ask me what I think.  How you say it is just as important as what you say.  Stop trying so hard to be “convincing” and start by being “inviting.”  Don’t see barriers but opportunities.  Choose to rally around themes that can do the most good:  love, honor, peace, humility, kindness, forgiveness and hope.  


Practice Peace-making

That means you need to be intentional to bring peace to people, places and discussions.  This is not a peace that is fabricated but a peace that is faith-related.  This is a peace that is not manipulated with the right substance or the right circumstance but a peace that is magnified as a person.  This is a supernatural peace, a Godly peace, that has nothing to do with human beings or human circumstances.  In fact it can’t be produced by anyone but it can be found by everyone .  This peace is a Person.  It’s Jesus.  He is called “the Prince of peace” and He crushed evil like no one else could (Romans 16:20).  So the closer you are to Jesus…the closer you are to peace.  Jesus doesn’t get stressed out, worry, or get afraid but lives in perfect contentment.  You can too.


Be a Good Neighbor

I know we already said it but we can’t say it enough:  Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.  True joy is NOT found in pursuing our own desires but fulfilling the desires of others.  So we choose to keep our doors open and our lives open as good neighbors to create a better community.  Acceptance is more palatable to culture than resistance so we choose to accept people where they are and influence people to where they could be in Jesus.  So we follow the advice of Jesus,

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”  Hebrews 10:24


At the end of the day, isn't it less about proving you're right or wrong and more about seeing others draw closer to the unconditional love of Jesus?



How To Live In and Navigate Through Outrage Culture - Part 1


There is a rise of outrage today in culture.  Outrage is exhausting. It’s draining. Outrage takes psychological and physical a toll on us.  And yet at the same time culture can’t live without it. It becomes a kind of addiction. On some level people enjoy getting outraged. It makes the them feel that they’re on the right side. It helps them feel that they are bonding with others who have similar views. But when a group of people are continually in “outrage mode” it’s really very, very unhealthy and not just unhealthy but almost seems normal. What I’m talking about folks is the “outrage culture.” We live in a culture where anything you say is misconstrued and taken offensively to at least one person or group. And once that individual or group speaks out, the public mob is out to put your head on a pike. It’s eroding our interactions, our relationships and our society. 


Heather Wilhelm, in an article for the Chicago Tribune writes,

“For a frightening number of people, the art of being offended by everything — or, even better, loudly and publicly complaining about being offended by everything — is pursued with alarming dedication. For some, being offended is practically a credo and an all-encompassing way of life.”


There is a difference between participating in a culture of outrage and having firm convictions. Jesus calls Christians to respond differently to a hateful world, commanding us to refuse retaliation and instead extend grace to our enemies.   This is a different ethic than what we are used to.  But Jesus modeled it.  Jesus lived with a completely different set of standards. The Sermon on the Mount is perhaps the most famous portion of Scripture in the Bible. Specifically in the sermon on the mount, Jesus lays out a completely different manner of living for His disciples.  It’s a way of life that is counter-cultural to the world’s mentality and emotions. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus instructs his disciples on how to deal with a world that is antagonistic, that is unwelcoming, that is mean-spirited and that wants to take advantage of them.  And His simple instruction is this:  



Turn the other cheek.



Matthew writes,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:38-42).


The Jewish law created equity with this “eye for an eye” ruling. But the purpose of the law was never to give license to inflict as much pain on someone as you thought they had inflicted upon you. Instead, Jesus calls his followers to a completely different standard in their personal dealings with others. The Jewish law was concerned with people’s actions. Jesus’ commands surpass a person’s actions and go far deeper…into the person’s heart.




Instead of using the law as an excuse for personal vengeance, Jesus commands those who are citizens of his kingdom to refuse retaliation when treated poorly. In an “outrage culture” sometimes silence can speak louder than yelling back.  Yelling back often places undeserved importance on the object of our outrage. Before long, our priorities can become of whack as those of the broader culture and we begin to believe our narrative of offense.  And the result is we spend our time fighting for the wrong things.



There are times to be furious.  You can be “angry and not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).  Probably one of the best examples of this is when Jesus flipped tables in the temple.  After making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem with crowds cheering and palm branches waving, Jesus "went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it” (Luke 19:45-46). Was Jesus showing the first signs of “outrage culture?”  Hardly. It was righteous indignation. Why such a display of anger? Because the people engaged in temple commerce were keeping others from God. They had a “financial racket” going.   They were finding fault with the sacrificial animals the people brought in and then sold them an "approved" animal at an inflated price. And this made Jesus angry.  If you’re a normal human, that should make you angry.  As Christians, we should speak out against injustice, but there is a difference between speaking out against injustice and getting in a Twitter fight where two different camps of people belittle each other in order to try and prove their point.


Refusing to retaliate is not an excuse to be passive or avoid people. Jesus’ words are not a call to disengage. They are a command to go the extra mile instead. It was common under Roman occupation during Jesus’ day for soldiers to demand that citizens carry their pack. This is what Jesus had in mind when he told his followers to go that extra mile.


For this idea to have its full effect, we must remember Roman soldiers were part of an occupying authority. They were an oppressive political power, and one that many Jews were desiring to overthrow. In fact, several attempts had already been made in Jesus’ day to start a rebellion against the Romans. Jesus tells his disciples to do something countercultural concerning the opposing political party. Not only were they to submit to the request to carry the pack, they were to exceed the expected distance. Do not just do what is expected of you to fulfill the obligation, Jesus tells them, instead do something that can only be explained by a genuine love for the person doing you wrong.

Instead of returning insult for insult, go out of your way to return kindness instead. Instead of getting drawn into the outrage, let us live a better story. I’m fully aware that it’s not as easy as were saying.  It’s especially hard when we have those in charge over us but we don’t agree with them politically, socially, relationally, spiritually, etc. So, how do we honor those God has put over us when we don’t agree with them?  Here some suggestions: 



Stop labeling each other and start learning from each other

Christians can fall into the trap of dishonoring others whose political beliefs or ideas are different.  Left-leaning Christians engage in rhetoric that labels our right-leaning authorities as anti-poor, anti-woman, anti-immigrant and so on.  Right-leaning Christians can label our democratic friends on the left as anti-capitalist, anti-white, anti-baby, anti-cop, etc.   What if we labeled each other as human beings?  What if we saw each other as creations of God?  Those labels give us a starting point to engage with others that isn’t political but personal to God.  They give us permission to accept each other despite our political positions so we can listen to each other rather than scream at each other.  Pursue the right perspective of each other before pursuing the right to push back against each other.  Your perspective of who you are is the best starting point to engage others where they are at.


Being disagreeable doesn’t mean being dishonorable 

When the actions of your leadership disagrees with your view of what leadership is, you have a choice to make.  Young David, an up-and-coming leader became successful and did everything right with those around him.  Even with those who were in authority over him.  King Saul, a political and spiritual leader that David reported to, chose to be irrational and dysfunctional.  To the point of wanting to kill David.  How would you honor a man who relentlessly sought to kill you? David had an understanding of the authority.  That God puts kings in charge and he knew that God had established making Saul king (1 Sam. 9:15-16). While Saul was his political leader, David’s honor for Saul was seen through is “honor lens” every day.  Every response by David towards Saul’s rants and ravages revealed to others how not only how much David loved God by how much he honored.  David spared Saul's life in the cave (1 Sam. 24:4-22) and again on the field of war while Saul was sleeping (1 Sam. 26:1-12) until finally this irrational ruler was defeated in battle and fell upon his own sword.  David not only grieved his death, prayed and fasted but wrote a song about his fallen leadership (2 Sam. 1:17-27). Instead of recounting all of Saul's weaknesses, the song he wrote actually recounted his honor.  Whenever possible, show respect for those in charge no matter how crazy they can sound (and maybe even write a song about them). 



Part 2 is next…


3 Ideas For Better Messaging About Jesus


I drove by a church with a billboard that said, “Discover the bread of life or you’re toast.”

While that was funny to me as a Christian…It’s a threat to my friends who aren’t. If you don’t live a particular way, you will be punished, and harshly punished, probably in a fiery pit of damnation and pain. For eternity. But the church just made fun of it. The church just made a joke about the eternity of our friends and neighbors who don’t know Jesus.

I understand that the church doesn’t laugh enough. We should laugh more. We need laugh at ourselves sometimes (Thank you John Crist). While these messages are clever, it just doesn’t make sense that these are used as messaging outside of the church. Its quippy, funny and great for a bumper sticker next to your Jesus fish. But is that what we want other to view Christianity as? It seems to dilute the sincerity and the authenticity of a God who loves and a faith that’s powerful!

Here are some other examples of what we’ll call “billboard evangelism”:  

  • “Turn or burn.”

  • “Stop, drop, and roll doesn’t work in hell.”

  • “There’s no air conditioning in hell.”

  • “Are you against Jesus?  There will be hell to pay.”

  • “If you think it’s hot in the summer, imagine hell.”

There are numerous issues with these types of phrases. The first is how they use church speak to try and reach a population who has no idea how to read church speak. If you were raised in church, you understand the image of Jesus as the bread of life because you have most certainly heard many sermons and pre-communion monologues that discuss this idea. On a billboard, describing Jesus as the “bread of life” removes it from that context and strips it of its meaning, impact and gravitas. It’s like trying to speak to someone in a language they don’t understand. It’s called speaking Christianese and odds are “outsiders of faith” will need a translator.

This goes for many other phrases often heard inside a sanctuary. To the outside world, they just don’t make sense. These might include:

  • “Lay down the yoke of burden.”

  • “Pray for a hedge of protection.”

  • “Give your heart to Jesus.”

  • “Free redemption inside.”

If you were raised in church, you can explain what all of these mean, but when sharing our faith with others, your target audience is not church people but unchurched people and dechurched people.

Billboard evangelism also tends to deploy the threat of hell. Given who billboard evangelists are trying to speak to, it’s a poor incentive for attending church or picking up a Bible. Is that really who we imagine God to be? Is that really who we want other people to imagine God to be? If a Christian really believed the unbelievers in their lives are going to spend eternity in hell, does that idea in and of itself inspires motivation to inspire and compel non-Christians. After all, if hell is real, then about 7 in 10 people on Earth are in serious trouble. Why would we reduce that to a joke on a sign?

And if that’s the case, what’s being done about it?  

3 Ideas For Better Messaging About Jesus:

Point Others towards Jesus Not Condemnation

There is a better message. Instead of pointing toward condemnation, we should be pointing toward a better alternative to what people might be seeing in their day-to-day lives. We should be pointing toward unconditional love—the most unconditional love ever. Romans 8:1 says “there is no condemnation in Christ.” Condemnation at it’s purest form from the dictionary means to literally “Together be damned.” We shouldn’t be “putting people in hell” but inspiring people too heaven. Jesus is the final authority on your eternity, anyhow.

Have Less Confrontations and More Conversations

People might not understand church speak and they might be turned off by images of hell, but people do understand connecting to other human beings. Reaching lost people shouldn’t be left up to billboards, it should hinge on personal relationships. Share your story of who Jesus is to you. Share your struggles, fears, victories and wins! Authenticity is the best policy. One of my favorite Scriptures and life motto’s is this and maybe it can be yours too as you are sharing Jesus with others:

“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Use Your influence as an invitation not a warning

Church billboards shouldn’t be warnings, they should be invitations: “Come join us.  We think you’re awesome.” And once new people are inside the church, they should feel welcome because of how true that message turned out to be. That’s when they’re ready to hear about the bread of life. We all essentially are walking Billboards. Right? We are all saying something whether we realize it or not. What are you advertising? Be a person that has a life that is inviting and warm. Too many Christians give off a vibe that we are a warning to others instead of being warming to others and kind. Show some love so when others meet you … they walk away a better person when meeting you than wishing they have never met you.

What do do you think about church evangelism billboards and our own messaging efforts?

Post originally appeared and modified here on Relevant Magazine


10 Straightforward Comparisons Between Dating a Girl Or A Woman


Who you partner yourself with for life can make or break you and your future.  We asked the question on Part 1 of  "How To Know If You Are Dating a Boy or a Man?" in our most recent post here.  Now that we have asked that question...what about for our lady friends?   

One of the attributes that you can look for in finding the girl of your dreams is maturity.  A man is interested in dating a woman…not a girl.  We highlighted a list for the guys because girls want to date a man and not a boy, essentially.  However, we want this series of posts to help guys not only rise up and be the men that God is calling them to be but also for girls to be the women God is calling them to become.  I have been talking hard to guys in the last post so here is my brief post to the ladies to encourage them and challenge them as well.  Here are are my thoughts (with some female input) on the differences:


10 Straightforward Comparisons Between Dating a Girl Or A Woman:



OK girls, if you want to turn the “good guys” away, just be a “catty” girl.  Be that girl who talks about other girls behind their backs, comparing yourself constantly to others and for the sake of all things in the universe, don’t ask us guys the dreaded question:  “Do you think she’s pretty?”  Because a guy doesn’t know how to answer that one without causing the apocalypse.   A guys wants to find a woman who complements others, who loves God’s creation, who loves her friends and accepts others as they are, who affirms her church and her community and leadership. A guy doesn’t want to date a girl who criticizes because it’s just plain draining.  



A woman knows who she is, knows what she wants and goes for it...professionally, relationally and spiritually.  She isn’t afraid to ask the questions, ask for help and collaborate with others.  She has friends "beyond her best friends" and doesn’t have a trail of burned bridges behind her.  She’s assertive, smart and plans effectively.  A girl can lack ambition, patience, thinks short-term and thinks often only about herself.  But a woman has the characteristics of someone who wants to build a life for herself and her man as well. Check out Proverbs 31 for some ideal lady characteristics! 



A woman is confident, strong and knows who she is.  She knows how she’s acting in the moment and realizes that she represents her guy when she’s with her girlfriends and when she’s with others.  She is aware of what she's wearing, what she says and how she's acting around others.  A woman is clearly communicating verbally and nonverbally with those around her.  A girl however, is draining.  The boyfriend of a “girl” is constantly trying to "figure her out" because she's playing games with him.  She says things indirectly that are ambiguous and unclear.  Ladies, guys are already confused as it is...why make it more difficult?  A girl plays continued games that may work for now but he will eventually grow tired of them.  So ladies, be a woman who doesn't need to flirt but desires to be faithful in all situations and watch your man only have eyes for you.



It’s the simple things that seem to make woman sweet, beautiful and alluring.  An enchanting woman loves the small gestures, the sincere romance and the authentic conversation (along with some gifts…come on ladies, am I right?).  A girl who is entitled talks about what she wants and if she can’t get it, she starts plotting what she wants through her and his friends.  Guys, we have a lot more fun by dating a woman whose priority is not material things and false expectations but is overwhelmed by the time and thought put into a simple gift than an extravagant one.  But guys that means you have to know what her likes and tastes are.  Because when you give her what she wants because you know her well, that puts her over the moon for you.  At the end of the day, it's not about the price or the stuff but it's about do you know her enough to know what she likes.  




My wife was a woman from the beginning.  She had standards.  She knew what she wanted.  She loved God and wanted a man who loved God.  I found myself doing what I could to win her over.  I met her in church.  Not at the club, at an after-party, etc.  (Hello, single people...!!)  Church is a great place to meet people (Oh, and find some really awkward ones, too...did I just say that out loud?)  We went boating with friends and I got to know her.  Eventually I took her out and the rest is history.  We grew to love each other.  We got married and have just celebrated 22 years in Hawaii.  You know what guys...I still romance her.  We celebrate birthdays like royalty, we go out on Valentines Day like we did in the early days, we have anniversary’s at some really great places that have really great pools (especially pools that have people that bring food right to you...we are a big deal and we are fine with that), I give her “just because” flowers at work, etc.  I say that because what "won her" to me while dating is what "keeps her" with me in marriage.  She made me work for it.  And you know what…I liked it.  When a girl makes obnoxious and obvious pursuits of a guy, maybe it’s me, but it feels a little different to me.  Nothing necessarily wrong with that but I want to be the man who has to win her over … and it brought out the man in me.  So girls, stop throwing yourself at him but let him chase you...if he's the man for you, he'll "see you" and run right after you.




A woman knows her surroundings.  She is aware of the spiritual climate in the room and knows when the battle is not against others (“flesh and blood”) but when it’s a spiritual battle.  A girl assumes the worst and gets defensive towards her guy and others.  She gets offended easily and assumes the worst.  She becomes hurt easily and lives from a posture of defensiveness and constant mistrust.  




I’ve counseled couples and their seemed to be some expectation that the other was going to change for the other.  News flash: not gonna happen. A guy is much more willing to become a better man when he knows he’s loved unconditionally by his woman. I mean isn’t that the foundation of relationship with Jesus?   A woman knows her man’s weaknesses.  She doesn’t expose them but covers them and makes him a better man. 



Hey girls, “pouty lips” or “the duckface” is not always cute to guys.  Frankly, they can seem over the top.  Are the selfies in fun or do they point to a bigger issue?  A girl only cares about herself, how she looks and how many likes.  A woman is concerned about others. A girl is selfish with her money but a woman is generous.  A girl is needy but a woman meets a need.  She lives a live of generosity by giving freely.  Her life is characterized by being a person who says that others matter.   Because when she prioritizes others, the others around her will prioritize her so she is never in lack or in want. 



Perhaps life is just too boring or maybe jealousy is to blame, but some girls love the drama (I get enough of that for one day by stumbling across an episode of Scandal or Riverdale).  This type of pandemonium is unheard of with a woman because she’s too busy going for her dreams to waste her time and/or helping others achieve their dreams and potential.  Don’t be a girl who gossips and causes division. A man doesn’t want to waste his time getting wrapped up in the cray-cray.   Not to mention, guys assume girls are doing the same thing with the rest of her family and friends. A woman has a respect with with others in her community. 
Guys, if you want to find the girl of your dreams, ask others around you what they think about her….because that will be the test of if she’s right for you. 



A girl is controlling.  She is one of those girls who commands him to open the door for her, tells her what he should order for her, etc.  Although I appreciate the take-charge idea...wrong execution because in the end she is the one yelling at her guy because he's not being the spiritual leader in the relationship. A woman let's him lead and take charge spiritually.  Even when he’s not a woman inspires him to go farther and dig deeper. A woman wants him to own his faith, own his spiritual life and own the relationship.  



Anything I'm missing from this list?



10 Reasons To Know If You Are Dating a Boy or a Man?


When it comes to relationships, saying the phrase “it’s complicated” is an understatement. Also, we don't want to awaken love till the right time.  And the right time is usually marked by maturity.  So how do we know if the person we are dating is mature and ready for a relationship? My church, River Valley Church, has recently started a relationship series that you can can check out here.

Along with hearing some great teaching on relationships, here’s a few thoughts I have put together about the dating scene. We will have a post similar to this to the ladies tomorrow. However, this one is for the guys. With that said, here’s my thoughts on…


How To Know If You Are Dating a Boy or a Man:



Hey girls, if you have to constantly prove to your guy that you are more attractive and better looking than the other girls around you, then he doesn't deserve you.  From what i've heard, it's hard enough to navigate the pressures with other girls so you don’t need false pressure from your guy.  If a guy truly loves his girl, she will be enough and what she lacks, he becomes her strength in that area.  Let 2 Corinthians 12:9 be inspiration for you for your guy to love you like Jesus loves you.




Guys, if the relationship is healthy, she will trust you.  If she doesn't, then you'll naturally be afraid of losing her.  So guys, stop trying to control the moment because of your own insecurity, pride, etc.  If you make her feel cherished and loved...what girl wouldn't want to be in the arms of a dude like that?  So loosen the grip, son. 




Hey girls, a guy who is always looking for the next best thing that comes his way is not the guy you want to be with.  He should only have eyes for you.  Guys, if you are “looking” at other women when you are in the presence of the girl you committed to, then you aren't ready for a relationship.  A guy can change his mind, that's fine.  But a guy that has committed himself to a relationship but is only in it for the benefits for himself, is a guy that is not ready to be dating anyone.  A man makes his commitment and sticks with it.  If he starts to question where his relationship is going, then he will have the conversation when necessary. 





How you do life matters. Because looks fade.  Feelings diminish at times.  But a man shows you how to do life together. And that will sustain your relationship for the long haul.  How you both line up with faith, passions, interests, raising kids, how you vacation, what movies you like, how you spend your Saturday Nights, what you laugh at, what you cry at, what you fight about...will show you if who you are building your life with is in it for you or simply into your looks. John 10:10 shows us when you live life to the full, your interests and your partner’s interests take on a different meaning because Jesus is at the center of it all.

A man is less concerned how you look to family and friends and is more concerned how you love family and friends.



I love celebrating my wife's accomplishments.  She has had a great career in the Christian music industry, orphan care, church life, the financial industry and ministry.  Her success at all these things doesn't threaten me but makes me proud of what a woman she is.  Guys, champion your lady to be successful because she's more capable than you think! 




 A lot of us guys can't think past the next 2 minutes when they're with a girl.  Sometimes all we see is her beauty.  And all we are trying to do is not talk like an idiot or act like a complete moron.  So every moment with our girl makes us feel crazy because we don't want to blow it.  And when we get to the romance part, we are going a 1000 mph.  So it is tough to find our pace, take it slow and enjoy the next few hours when we are with the girl of our dreams.  So guys, that's why you have to not live from feeling to feeling or moment to moment but think about the big picture.  Too many guys have lost their “future wife” acting in a moment.  So when I say prepare, I am saying think about before-hand what your actions could do to her or to you or to those around you.  Proverbs 22:3 says this, “A prudent man with insight foresees danger coming and prepares himself for it. But the senseless rush blindly forward and suffer the consequences.” Think before you act, fellas.  




It's like this:  If people she respects most doesn't like him or care to be around him, then it's probably not a good fit.  Plain and simple, y'allz.



Guys get hotheaded.  We get into fights.  We don't wanna be wrong and we can be very prideful.  So fella's, seek the wisdom.  The best starting place for that is in the Bible so if you haven't read the Scriptures in a while, then there's your first problem.   Put yourself in the presence of God and in the presence of those who are wiser than you. Find those who have done relationships well and ask for advice.  They probably have a few good things to say about relationships so stop and ask them about how they made it “this far” with their “favorite girl” and listen up!



A man is always confident he has the best than always wondering if he can do better.



A man wants his girl to be liked by his family and friends.  Because those closest to his family and friends have a pretty good radar if she's the one.  So girls, take special heed to the other special ladies in his life...I’m talking about mom’s and sister’s.  How you interact and love those who are special in his life is a good way for you to make an impression and make him feel good about the choice he made. Also how he loves, honors and respects the other ladies in his life is a good indicator on how he will do the same with you."




There is an understanding in relationships that an important attribute to look for in love is security. I understand that there are many things in life that we depend on but can’t be 100% sure of — our job, our health and etc. But in view of this, be a man who iis going to be there for her in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for richer…for poorer, etc. Because trust, honest and dependable are essentials to do life with someone for the long haul.

Coming up next, how to know if you are dating a girl or a woman…

Any you would add?





What Makes You Believe That Christianity Is the Right Religion?


That is a very great question.  



A worldview is not build on one line of argument but a connected series of arguments.  A worldview is the framework from which we view our reality and makes sense of life.  This is made up of our ideology, philosophy, theology, psychology, etc.  

For example, my 6-year-old son believed he was the center of his world, lego’s are everything, and that Christmas and his birthday are the two greatest days of the year .  Because it’s all he knows.   A Buddhist believes he can be free from suffering.  A secular humanist believes that the material world is all that exists.  A Christian’s worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God.  

Whether you believe it or not, every person has a worldview.  Your worldview is that driving force behind every decision, emotion and action of what you believe to be true affecting every response you make in life: from philosophy to science, theology and anthropology, political and social, spiritual and relational, etc.  


 You have to look at the construct of the Christian Worldview of each person..  The construction of the worldview of Christianity is built on the life and death of Jesus.  If Jesus is who He says He is, then the goal is to pursue the truth of understanding who Jesus truly was.  When you look at the life of Christ (the years before, how He was going to be born, how He lived, His death and resurrection), you have to look at the multiple authors, multiple books written (66 to be exact), the reaction of the people involved, etc. 


You have Thomas who meets Jesus and grows with him, experiences the Cross and was present with Him in resurrection form. This changed his life forever compelling him to give his life to serve the people of India (where there is 33 million deities) and giving his life for Jesus. Saul (who becomes Paul who wrote most of the New Testament) discover’s Jesus in reverse of Thomas. He was present with Christ in resurrected form, gives himself to understanding the cross and spends his life understanding Jesus.

Each coming from a different worldview but coming to the same conclusion…Jesus is alive.



Every person has a worldview. A world view has four qualifiers which was made popular by Dr. Ravi Zacharias, a Christian philosopher and writer.  These four specific areas of our worldview are defined as follows:


Origin – How does your worldview explain the origins of humanity?


Meaning – How is meaning described within your worldview?


Morality – What is the moral basis of your worldview?


Destiny – What is the future of your worldview? 


Let’s put this worldview in context to atheism. Let’s look at the origin of worldview.   For the atheist, the first cause is a vacuum, an unanswered question: Where did energy come from?  For the Christian, the first cause is a loving architect of the universe, a necessary first cause who over 10,000 years or 7 billion years, crafted the universe into existence.



Next let’s look at the meaning of worldview.  The question of meaning in Christianity is simple: We are children of the loving biologist, chemist, artist, writer, and architect, the designer of the human soul, who we call Father God.  In that context, every human being has value, incredible value, so much that God would come, Jesus Christ, to offer himself as a path of redemption.  Atheists may believe, for example, that humanity is special because we are sort of ‘happy accidents’ born with a certain, undesignated, amount of time to live and to create our own meaning competing us to strive to create a life around it. 

The morality part to a person’s worldview is believing in love, hope, honor, loyalty, honesty, trust, respect, etc. These attributes don’t have to come from God. They come from within and from human interaction. The Christian Worldview believes the life of Jesus is the perfection of morality.  Jesus lived His life in powerfully simple terms: Love God and love others, as you love yourself leading to peace and a paradise that is highly anticipated.

Finally, what future destiny does an atheist have, after 100 years have passed?  After 1000 years have gone by?  The atheist passes out of existence into the natural and biological cycles of the environment.  What destiny does the Christian Worldview have?  Unending life, in community with a loving God and fellow believers who have chosen to fly in the face of everything the world says, and do it the way God says.  Jesus Christ is the way. 



So much of the life exclusivity of Christianity is pointed in the life lived exclusively in opposition to the world as Jesus Christ.  And Jesus offers us all an invitation to join His life and life from Him and for Him.  Jesus makes his claims in John 14:6 claiming, 


“I am the way the truth and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through Me.”  

-John 14:6


History and Scripture points towards the birth, purity of life, the death on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus.   The fundamental difference in Jesus compared to other religions is in the uniqueness and exclusivity of his claim while embracing ALL of humanity and inviting EVERYONE to believe and embrace this claim.  When collectively understand and intentionally build the coherence of His answers, he is who he claimed to be.  Jesus proved these claims by His birth, His life and His resurrection.  Those verifications along with my own verifications of who Jesus is to me personally in my own life, make His claims and His life undeniable.  


The question you have to ask is “why didn’t this movement of Christianity simply die?”


It comes down to the resurrection.  It’s been said that the resurrection is a Christian myth.  It’s been said that “that person told that person and they told that person” and now we have a myth.  No.  It’s been verified by a number of people who saw Him including the verifiable author of the books of Corinthians.  See 1 Corinthians 15,


“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”  

- 1 Corinthians 15 




Many convinced they saw him.  What can account for the "gap" of a movement that should have ended and been “dying out” because the leader died but instead exploded and became a movement lasting thousands of years?  

Nonbelievers of Christianity fill this “gap” with the explanation of a mass hallucination or an ignoring/disqualifying of the historical evidence for Jesus Christ resurrection.  The reality is you can look into the facts and evidence surrounding the resurrection and it’s becomes harder and harder to deny the resurrection was an event in history.  This is yet another reason that the exclusivity of Jesus being the Savior of the world is not only true but available to anyone!  All you have to do is pray to Jesus and watch your life “come to life!"



What About Those Who Have Never Heard of Jesus?

rog creator.jpeg

I was talking recently to someone about Jesus who is having honest conversations and introspection about their faith. I always have believed that the more honest and sincere you can be with yourself about God, the more honest and sincere God will be with you about yourself. Whether you are embracing extreme trust with God or extreme doubts, it doesn’t change God’s love for you.

While I was talking to this person at the wedding I was at recently, one of the questions asked was, “What about those who were NOT raised in a Christian home?”

If you grew up in in a privileged home in a faith community where Jesus is the Son of God, did you get a better hand dealt than the Muslim believer who believed Jesus is only a prophet and is still subject to Allah? This is a great question for Rogue Saints to know the answers.

If the Bible is true, then here are two reasons as to how we can reconcile this question with God:


No matter where you are living, you are surrounded by creation. I have had the privilege of living in the four corners of the country. From the blue waters on the Gulf Coast, to the deserts of Phoenix, to the East Coast of Washington DC and it’s beauty to the bold north of Minnesota. Each offers it’s own beauty found in creation where God can “show off.” Each of these areas offer expressions of creation where God can reveal Himself in the surroundings. In the Bible, the book of Romans speaks about this truth of God’s reality:

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20

Because of Romans, the creation speaks out loudly that there is a creator. No matter what part of the nation or the world you live in for that matter, the parts of creation reveal there is a creator.


There is an obviousness about God that can be known about Him. This is revealed to our consciousness; for God, Himself, has made it plain to us (Romans 1:19). Romans continues to express this truth by confirming that people without the “Biblical law” still have a moral law written on their hearts. See below:

“Even Gentiles [people who are outsiders of faith] who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.” Romans 2:14-15

In other words, God gives us an inherent morality that we can’t ignore that speaks to us about right and wrong. Without experiencing a Christian childhood or without even meeting a Christian, there is an instinctive understanding that the morality they have inside them has to come from somewhere. They can choose to ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t excuse them from the realty that God is showing Himself in those moments.

Everyone who has ever lived by creation and concisous has the evidence that there is a God. These major revelations will carry and confirm God’s existence and God will use these to bring the salvation. This may happen through dreams, missionaries encounters, internet, etc.

The questions is not “how will God answer those who have not heard” but instead is “what will you do with the information you have heard?”

Any thoughts on this one? 



ROG SAINTS: This Is Why I'm Not Crazy for Believing In Jesus


It’s Easter which means we have bunnies, chocolates, tulips, egg hunts…and an empty tomb? When I was in Belgium, I was conducting an interview on the street as to what Easter was about and I met one man that knew it was about all of those items listed in my list above…except he truly didn’t know about the Resurrection of Jesus. 


As you are having conversations with family and friends on what is the importance of what this Holiday means to those who are outsiders of Christianity, this time of year reveals the potent truth of who Jesus was and what He accomplished.   The Resurrection is the most significant event that identifies that what we believe, Who we pray to and what we are living for is real.  


The Bible says it best,


“12 The message we preach is Christ, who has been raised from the dead. So how could any of you possibly say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no such thing as a resurrection from the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.[j14 And if Christ has not been raised, all of our preaching has been for nothing and your faith is useless.”  I Corinthians 15:10-14


So this asks the question, can we have confidence in event 2000 years ago?  



Here are some quick facts as to why the Resurrection is the best account of who Jesus truly was:



Fact 1:  We know Jesus died on the cross 

There is no scholarly debate about this.  Why because a number of different writers in the Bible make the claim throughout the Scriptures, obviously.  We have extra-biblical Christian writers like Ignatius and Clement of Rome who spoke about Christ’s death.  We also have non-Christian writers like Tacitus and Josephus at the end of the first century who claim Jesus came and died on the cross.  Like the CNN of their day, they talked about it and recorded it in their history books.  Tacitus, himself, writes this about Christ’s crucifixion and what happened below:


“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus….”  


Not to mention the Christians wouldn’t make up the messiah was crucified.  The cross was a symbol of shame, disdain and rejection in the modern Jewish/Roman world.  To be crucified on a cross would have been shamed by the gods of the day.   So to glorify such an event wouldn’t have helped in their “Jesus Will Make Your Life Awesome “PR Campaign.  


Fact 2:  The tomb was empty

First, the tomb was discovered by women.  In that culture, a women’s testimony was considered worthless.  Unfortunately, they weren’t educated like men were back in the first century.  So this begs the question why women would have discovered an empty tomb?  This doesn’t help the credibility or the probability that it was a valid event.  Also if you read that the religious leaders tried to claim that the disciples stole the body.  Why make that up?  Because the body was gone and the tomb was empty. There was no logical explanation as to where the body went.  Jesus grave back then wasn’t a hole in the ground but a cave with a massive stone in front of it and it was guarded by soldiers day and night.  Before the famous “3 days and He rose,” the religious community had an idea that the disciples might try to “fake Jesus resurrection.” So the made sure that didn’t happen. See what one of the eye witnesses and one of Jesus disciples, Matthew, says below: 


“62 The next day, the day after Preparation Day for Passover, the chief priests and the Pharisees went together to Pilate. 63 They said to him, “Our master, we remember that this imposter claimed that he would rise from the dead after three days. 64 So please, order the tomb to be sealed until after the third day. Seal it so that his disciples can’t come and steal the corpse and tell people he rose from the dead. Then the last deception would be worse than the first!”

65 “I will send soldiers to guard the tomb,” Pilate replied. “Go with them and make the tomb as secure as possible.” 66 So they left and sealed the stone, and Pilate’s soldiers secured the tomb.”  


It wasn’t fake.  The disciples, the soldiers and many others saw and heard of Jesus resurrection.



Fact 3:  Jesus appeared to people

Jesus appeared to Paul who was persecuting people.  Jesus appeared to over 500 people and so many others.  See the reference below from Paul’s testimony in his letter to the Christians in Corinth who were also doubting if the resurrection was real: 


“He was buried in a tomb and was raised from the dead after three days, as foretold in the Scriptures. 5 Then he appeared to Peter the Rockand to the twelve apostles. 6 He also appeared to more than five hundred of his followers at the same time, most of whom are still alive as I write this, though a few have passed away.Then he appeared to Jacoband to all the apostles. Last of all he appeared in front of me….”  1 Corinthians 15:4-8


Fact 4:  The disciples were willing to die. 

The disciples and many Christians faced horrible deaths because of their beliefs.  Some were crucified like Christ, some were left to die on an island by themselves, some were lit on fire, some were fed to lions, some were covered in tar, etc.  We know you can believe a lie and essentially be “sincerely wrong” about someone.  That’s why Jesus brother, James is intriguing.   Even his own brother didn’t believe but was convinced…and died for his belief.  Let’s be honest, convincing family is hard because they know you most.  But James, who was up close and personal on someone claiming to be the Messiah, was willing to suffer and die for Christ  reveals the authenticity of his own conviction that Jesus was who He says He was.  


It’s been shown historically that James was leader of the apostles in Jerusalem.  James remained the leader of the Jerusalem church until his death around A.D. 62. This is the account of his martyrdom according to Hegesippus (a 2nd century Christian about whom little is known), which is quoted in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, vol. II, ch. 23 (A.D. 323). James death is paraphrased as being led to the top of the temple by the Pharisees, letting the people know exactly what happens to those who dare to believe in Jesus. They climbed the temple as the people shouted, reached the top, and threw James from the pinnacle of the temple.

It didn't kill him. He rose to his knees and began to pray for them. The Pharisees on the ground began to stone him as he prayed, while those from the roof rushed down to join the execution. All because James believed a con-man, a lie?  No.  Even though they were threateded with death they still believed.  


For these reasons and many more, you have a good case to share with others that Jesus really did die and rose again.  











How To Finally Get It All Done In A Day


We all have 24 hours in a day.  Yet it feels as though some of us have 38 hours in a day to get all their stuff done and I’m still trying to catch up on turning in my expenses from 3 weeks ago and washing my smoothie cup from 6am this morning…but I digress.


Managing ourselves is the first person we have to learn to manage before we can effectively manage those around us.  Whether we are a parent, a spouse, a team leader at work, the person leading the organization or the church, we have to manage self. This will always be our most difficult person to manage.  If you lead yourself correctly, others will trust you, back you and follow you. If you lead yourself poorly, you’ll eventually lose the people you need the most. That’s why learning prioritization will be your greatest gift you can give to yourself and those around you.  The truth is we may not ever get it all done in one day…but we can get EVERYTHING done that you have realistically prioritized for TODAY to give you satisfaction for today.

Your deliberate use of the time everyone else wastes will give you the edge everyone else wants.  

We all have the same amount of time given to each of us every day.  Your deliberate use of the time everyone else wastes will give you the edge everyone else wants.   Maybe that’s why God instructs us that counting the days (even hours and minutes) gives us the wisdom we need to live the life we were made to have (Psalm 90:12).


Here are some quick hitters to get you going on learning to prioritize your day:


Realize that everything you think is important isn’t that important

There are many things that want our attention.  There are many voices that shout at us to give it attention.  So our focus becomes divided.  The demands of others can paralyze us.  Just like a lion in a three-ring circus who sees the man in front of him.  But once the chair is places in front of him and all 4 legs are in front of the lion, this once “killing machine” becomes a paralyzed cat unable to focus on the four legs not to mention the man holding the chair (that’s why the lion-tamer has a chair-weird, but I get it now).  Focus on one thing at a time and watch your to-do list become a done-and-done list.  God makes that easy by reminding us this simple principle in prioritizing: 


“Seek first the Kingdom and all these things will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:33


Work smarter not harder

I don’t know who started that phrase but I’ve heard that in all my leadership circles.  Being more intense at what you need to do doesn’t magically give you more time.  But being more insightful at what you need to do helps you find a better way making the most of what you have.  Prioritize the time to discover new app’s for better productivity. Find others that you trust to help be a “second set of hands” to work on “that” while you do “this.” Devote yourself to finding a solution for the problem instead of drifting into maintenance of the problem.

create “white space” in your life

In design, “white space” is negative space. It’s not blank space because it has a purpose. It is balancing the rest of the design by bringing what is on the page into greater view. The white space helps focus your visual attention.  We need white space in our daily lives just as much as we need it in design because the idea reveals that if our lives are over-cluttered and over-booked, we can’t prioritize.  Time scarcity is like kryptonite for productivity. We need to build into our calendar because a lot of activity is not mean a lot of accomplishments.  The greater the responsibilities, the greater the need for “white space” in your day.

If you have the charactheristics of a reactive person, this means you are repairing instead of preparing. 


Stop Making everything a priority makes nothing a priority 

When you say everything has high priority, then everything will have inferiority.  When you make everything a priority you ultimately make nothing a priority.  If you do this, this reveals that you have a hard time making decisions.  When you are unable and unwilling to make any decisions, you won’t get anything done.  Not only does your list continue to get longer and longer but it also makes you unstable:


“For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. 7–8 When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable.”  James 1:6-8 TPT



Resist “your good” sabotaging “your best”

It’s easy to prioritize the good decisions from the bad.  For example, “Do I binge another season of Shark Tank or do I finally paint over our purple bathroom (from the last owner of our house) the grey Joanna Gaines swears by which the wife bought for me that has been sitting in our bathroom for two weeks?”  Obviously it’s watching Mark Cuban battle it out with the others sharks for a musical toilet seat. The real challenge is prioritizing the good decisions from the great decisions.  They can look similar but will have a different result.  Take time to discover what is the best use of your time as you prioritize your life.


Choose to be proactive not reactive

Being proactive means “I have things to do.” Being reactive means, “I have to do things.”  If you have the charachteristics of a proactive person, that means you preparing, planning, anticipating, responsible and effective.  If you have the charactheristics of a reactive person, this means you are repairing instead of preparing.  A reactive person is preventing instead of planning.  They are reacting instead of anticipating.  Also, they are putting requests of others in the calendar instead of putting their responsibilities for others in the calendars.  Ultimately they are reactive instead of effective.  

When you say everything has high priority, then everything will have inferiority.


The “Pareto Principle” is a familiar concept to many of us named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (If I ever have another child, that’s his first and middle name). This is commonly known as the 80/20 principle. Applying this principle simply implies that 20 percent of your priorities will give you 80 percent return on your productivity, if you spend your time and energy on the top 20 percent of your priorities. Simply put, discover and catagorize the top 20% of your to-do list and you will get an 80% return. How’s that for day’s work?

Any other’s you would add?








Leading You and Your Family to Greater Spiritual Growth


Spiritual growth personally is important. As you become married with kids, the importance of leading your family spiritually becomes even more important. The primary means for us has been having a family devotional life. Heidi and I started family “devo’s” back in the early days while it was just us. We had to find our rhythm, figure out how to have it be our “style” that fits us and our lifestyle, etc. . While they should look different to many families and in many different seasons, our family devotions would be a means through which we would teach our kiddos the Bible and the different spiritual truths that are meaningful to us as a family. When they were young we would focus on its stories and, as they grew older, we would focus spiritual disciplines, understanding doctrines, etc. Where we first concentrated on the great characters and events of biblical narrative, we later adjusted our focus to Proverbs and the epistles and living out the Christian life. Family devotions have to be more than the mere acquiring of knowledge. It’s shaping the spiritual, emotional and relational trajectory of our family.

When my kids were little, I bought a Bible with great pictures in it and simply told the story as I knew it. And at times, even added some extra flavor to keep my boy even more interested at bedtime (for example, Daniel not only was thrown into a den of lions but there were raptors and T-Rex’s in there at times too-but the angel still closed the mouths of all of those filthy beasts and spared Daniel’s life. As they got older we found this wonderful (but cheesy) family devotions book that had stories with Scriptures of choosing God in hard times. While the stories varied every day (365 of them) with “Billy and Susie” that we changed to “Anja and Magnus” while memorizing the verse of the day and even acting out the Scriptures with our hands. Now that they are older, we read practical books like James, Philippians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Proverbs, etc.

Also, I thought I would share a tool Heidi and I made for our family which originated when Anja and I ran out of gas while we were a block from a gas station which hasn’t happened since I was in college. I forgot to check the gauges on my car dashboard. Dad fail! But it was a life lesson that we have to “check our family gauges” so that we don’t “stop moving forward” as a family because we failed to check our dashboard of our family life. So as part of our family devos we talk through each gauge every few months and have great talks by asking the questions and measuring on a scale of 1-10 how we are doing. It’s helped us to have honest questions as the kids are getting older as to how we are doing as parents, what God is doing and how we are growing as followers of Jesus. See our gauges I designed for our family below:


Simply put, we’ve found family devotions is a crucial means of declaring our family’s priorities. By turning to the Bible and prayer, we’ve tried to model the centrality of these practices in the Christian life.  By gathering the family for shared devotions usually after dinner, we display the priority and necessity of hearing from God and speaking to God. And I think we also declare something about our priorities when we show that when we are together which is usually at dinner which is why we choose to do it there.

These daily times together have also proven an important means of building closeness within our family. There are all kinds of things we can do to build relationships between the four of us. We have long since seen that shared experiences ultimately mean far more than accumulating possessions (we’ve lived in DC, Phoenix, Mobile and Minnesota as a family). We decided a while back, that home isn’t a “place” but it’s whenever and wherever we are “together.” So our collection of experiences on our journey have shaped our kids beyond what any object or thing ever could. While we continue to exchange gifts and celebrate birthdays and holiday big-time, the gifts are almost always soon forgotten. But the memories of vacations, special occasions and other special times are burned in their memories that they will have long after their toys are for sale on my wife’s yearly garage sale (the most un-wonderful time of the year).

So we choose to value experiences and not things. And our devotions call us to a family experience each day. And while few of them are remarkable on their own, it is their gradual accumulation that adds up to something special. Eventually family devotions is viewed as more than a brief time each day but something closer to a single, enduring shared experience we share together.

And there is the benefit of building a habit that adds structure and stability to our family’s shared life. As we have emphasized family devotions, we have found it becomes a kind of organizing structure to the life we share together. My hope is that these frequent devo moments will continue to call us all to be in the same space at the same time for the same purpose—to be together in there presence of God for at least a while. It is the kind of habit, perhaps like eating together and attending church together, that anchors a family. Nowhere else do I get to affirm, hug and love from a huge sense of spiritual depth than when we get to be together as a family while praying and reading the Bible together.

Then, finally, there is this: Through family devotions we model personal devotions.  By relating to Jesus as a family, we teach how to relate to Jesus as individuals. All the kids need to do to build a habit of private devotion is to begin to imitate and individualize our habit of family devotion. We have modeled how to pray and what to pray for; we have tried to model how to understand the Bible and how to properly apply it.

There have been many times over the years when I’ve felt like our habit of family devotions has been hit or miss, awkward or boring, etc. Though I’ve never been tempted to give up, I’ve decided it’s important to change it up. But looking back on nearly 21 years of doing family life together, I see there are many wonderful benefits to be had through faithful simplicity. I’m increasingly convinced that some of the best and most important lessons go beyond characters, stories, and doctrines. It’s our shared moments of being together to experience God as family that I can give to my family as a gift that they will have for the rest of their lives!

Any thoughts you would add?



Part 2: Why I Stopped Evangelizing and Started Sharing Jesus


We are talking about sharing faith as The New young Christian.  If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1 here as we continue the conversation…

The new Young Christian is rethinking evangelism in a new way.  Here are a few thoughts to get you inspired to share Jesus more often:


It’s a different era now than before.  The question of “If you were to die today, do you know where you would go?”  This was a stirring question in the 60’s, 70’s , etc because of the cold war and the nuclear threat was very real to those in this era.  However, today the engagement with others in your community (neighborhood, school, workplace, etc) about Christianity is more of an abrasive issue than in anytime in history.  The culture war is dying out and the idea of being in a “battle” is an imagery that is less appealing to both Christians and non-Christians.  If we posture ourselves to a dialogue than engage in a battle for truth, we will most likely be more effective.

2.  Being an inviting person is more important that being a convincing person. 

Being convincing is a good thing.  But we chose to sacrifice our access to others at the expense of being assured by others we are right makes us not only lose touch with our culture but it isolates us as well.     If our posture is being open with those we are having a conversation with, then usually that is reciprocated and they will be more open with you.  Underneath it all you can and are certain, but it’s not what you lead with because your confidence will be arrogance to an outsider of faith.  Smugness and superiority in things of faith are not appealing but humility and serving goes a long way.   I think that’s why grace is so appealing.  Grace is inviting and not imposing.   Grace and truth go together (John 1:17). So let grace lead the way and truth will back you up when necessary.


3.  Passion is the key to a message worth listening to 

I have been reading a book titled, "Talk like Ted" and one of the takeaways from that worthwhile read is that “people cannot inspire others until they are inspired themselves.”  A genuine passion for Jesus, who He is and what He stands for is critical when sharing authentically with others.  But it’s a passion for the right thing that is important.  Howard Shultz, founder of Starbucks, wasn’t as passionate about coffee but was more passionate about created a “third space.”  This is a space that would create incredible customer service to employees and be a place that people would love coming to work and be treated with respect.  Coffee was the product but the passion was the care of the people (customers and employees).  When sharing passionately with others, the focus must remain about the people and not the theology of Christianity.  Jesus was more passionate about loving others and less concerned about religious laws…let that be our model as well.



4.  Stop categorizing people

It’s easy for us to put people into catagories:  unsaved friends, worldly neighbors, secular campus, immoral co-workers, etc.  I understand that these are harmless descriptions in most instances but over time we place ourselves in a position of US and THEM when God is desiring WE.   Jesus created meaningful relationships with society’s sinners and outcasts.  Many Christians, without realizing it, shame and condescend others by creating a rigid exclusivity that over time can be hard to penetrate as someone who lacks faith.  I personally believe the word “hope” is one of the powerful words in our culture and bringing the hope of Jesus to a world that is severely lacking in hope could be one of the most robust words to share when talking about Jesus in our culture. The New Young Christian believes grace, hope and inspiration are potent words that work powerfully in unbelieving contexts.  They wake up every day, on mission to simply live like Jesus did by not categorizing their relationships but by seeing others around them as creations of God in need of restoration.



5.  Live a lifestyle of generosity

Simply put, find ways to be a blessing to others. This not only blesses you and produces incredibly fruit in your own life because of your own giving but it shows the world that your actions line up with what you say. It shows that you live what you believe. Saying you're a Christian is one thing, but living it authentically on a daily basis is something else.


6.  Choose integrity in all circumstances 

Don't compromise your beliefs.  Be honest.  Be truthful.  Have credibility.  Situations happen every day where compromise is not only contemplated but expected.  I had a situation in college when I was a server in a restaurant.   Every day I would pay for my soup while most of the other college student just “took a little bit” before their shift.  I chose to pay even though after my discount it was under a dollar.  Little did I know that my manager saw this and it moved him to make this statement:  “Most of my other employees steal from me by taking a small cup of soup without paying but you choose to pay me the 75 cents for the soup and you’re studying at Bible College to be a pastor?  I want the kind of faith you have.”  I’m proud to say I led him to Christ in the back of the restaurant that day.  It’s who you are when no one is looking and who you are when everyone is looking that not only defines your faith but speaks a message.    


7.  Model forgiveness

The ability to forgive quickly and often is one of the most powerful ways to show how Christianity really works.  When you model forgiveness you show the world an attribute that is not only a rare but healthy and healing for the soul…no matter who you are or what faith you come from.  Jesus modeled the ultimate forgiveness by saying these words, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  That kind of forgiveness of loving your enemies and forgiving quickly is authentic proof Jesus is who He says He is.


8.  Live vulnerably

Being authentic is showing the unhidden you but being vulnerable is showing not just showing who you are but revealing the broken parts of you.  Sharing your story or testimony with others let’s people know they aren’t alone.   The broken parts of your life is the common ground for the Gospel to be planted in.   Knowing your faith is knowing your story.  Where Jesus entered, what He has done and what He continues to do in you and through is powerful for people to hear.  How God is revealing Himself to me individually is my testimony.  How God is revealing Himself to us corporately (our church) is our message, what we preach as a church and how we live.  God’s revelation to us has the same effect it had on the disciples from the days of Jesus, “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).



9.  Be extremely hospitable

So you invited someone to church and they didn’t accept your invitation.  Why not invite them to your house instead and share a meal with them and share Jesus with them while you’re at it.  It’s rare to be invited to a dinner party for many of us.  But Matthew used a dinner party to invite many of his friends who didn’t know Jesus and to be introduced to Him (Matthew 5:27-32).  Your pool party, game night, block party, Christmas Tea, Chili Night, spaghetti dinner, movie to dvd premier, baseball Sunday, neighbor night or super bowl party could be the moment that your friend gets introduced to Jesus.  So invite your friends who love Jesus and let them meet others who don’t and see what happens.   God seems to give a healthy community, who’s intentions are for the common good of others, restorative power to change the world (Hebrews 10:24-25).


 If you liked this article you will love checking out AXE ACADEMY.  A discipleship platform to help you navigate questions like this and other faith meets culture areas of your life! Check us out at https://theaxeacademy.com/



Part 1: Why I Stopped Evangelizing and Started Sharing Jesus


I walked into a conversation that others were having and I was ready to throw in my thoughts and contribute!  So when I walked in and shared my super amazing insight, I realized they weren’t talking about a film but talking about someone's actual circumstances. I was commenting like I was giving a movie review...Read the room, Alan.


Sometimes as Christians, we don’t necessarily “read the room” either.  I think at this time, in our culture, we are just like this awkward moment.  Culture is having spiritual conversations that Christians aren’t invited to because we are giving answers to questions that aren’t being asked. 


A question posed by most Christians:  

“If you were to die to today do you know where you would go?”


An answer given by some who are not Christians:

“I would become reincarnated and come back as a part of nature based on my good works that I contribute as a human being to better the planet because I believe in making the world a better place.”  


A response by Christians:
“Oh.  Ummm, ok.  I, uh…Jesus says, ummm….”  



The question is…what is the right response for those around us who are outsiders of faith who need the redemptive work of Christ in their lives? 

Barna has just released the findings of a new study commissioned by the discipleship organization Alpha USA, and one of the revelations is shocking.

The goal of the research was to better understand what Christian millennials believe about the Gospel and sharing their faith. Though the vast majority agreed with statements like “the best thing that could ever happen to someone is for them to know Jesus” and “how to respond when someone raises questions about faith,” things changed when asked about sharing their faith.

From the report: “Almost half of Millennials (47%) agree at least somewhat that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.”

That is far higher than Gen X, Boomers and Elders. (Gen Z wasn’t included in the study.) That makes millennials the most evangelism-reluctant generation to-date.

In a statement included in the research, Barna Group president David Kinnaman said, 

“Even after they are committed to sustaining resilient faith, we must persuade younger Christians that evangelism is an essential practice of following Jesus. The data show enormous ambivalence among Millennials, in particular, about the calling to share their faith with others.” 

Cultivating deep, steady, resilient Christian conviction is difficult. Evangelism isn’t just about saving those that need saving, but reminding ourselves that the Kingdom matters, that the Bible is trustworthy and that Jesus changes everything.

The Bible puts it like this:

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.  COLOSSIANS 4:5-6


Have the right response.   Maybe we are responding wrong.  The problem is  we are trying to answer questions that no one is asking.  Recently in pop culture these issues were highlighted in the last week:


+ When does life start for a human being?

+ How does race affect our relationships with each other?

+ Can we be politically opposite but be united as humans?

+ Can the gay community and the Christian community co-exist?

+ Resistance to authority or submission to authority?


This week, culture is talking about abortion, racism, injustice and bringing restoration to a world that needs it more than ever before.   What are we sharing about in our churches that helps others draw nearer to Christ?  Let’s be honest, Jesus doesn’t come across in Scripture like he is “forcing his convictions upon us.  Jesus preached some of the hardest messages, yet crowds continued to flock to Him.   Part of the reason I think that faith isn’t potent in our culture is because we get nervous when the term ‘evangelism’ gets brought up.   What is evangelism really? 


Let me tell you what evangelism is not:

+  Having an acute knowledge of theology

+  Being super bold about faith issues

+  Reserved for only certain Christians

+  Bringing people to church

+  Being extremely educated and extraordinary


The fact is that is the farthest from the truth.  To be someone who can share faith with others, all you need to be is unschooled and ordinary. 

"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus."  Acts 4:13


What if we saw evangelism as moving someone one step closer to Jesus.  It’s sharing your story of how Jesus has impacted your life with someone.  It’s inviting someone into your life and having a conversation with them about your life.


What if sharing your faith with someone was as easy as sharing your life with someone?


My life consists of the following slices of life:  marriage, kids, job, church, social life, spiritual life, etc.  Compartmentalizing these significant parts of my life compels me then to evangelize at the expense of others things.  Or in other words, “I’ve got to find time to share Jesus.”  But if I live an integrated life in Jesus then my ordinary life becomes a life of evangelism because by living daily for Jesus is sharing Jesus daily with others.

“Evangelism best benefits the church when you share your faith rather than evangelism benefits you when the church shares it’s faith.  ” -Alan Pastian

Here’s how I think it works.  This means that when you talk about your kids, your marriage, your job, your friends, your church your passions…you are talking about Jesus.  Sharing about the joys or your struggles to have a better relationship with your spouse or significant other, becomes a moment that you can share how Jesus helps you to be a better, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.  Your passions to be a designer become a talking point to share how Jesus has given you this passion and how you want to use your creativity to inspire others about the creator, etc.  Your love of being a father is like the love of God who is a father so when you talk about your kids you can talk about your heart that God gave you.  When I’m with my friends and engaging in my social life, I’m sharing in my community that is connected by Jesus and for others to be connected because of Jesus.  When I’m in my church we are talking about Jesus and desiring to be more like Jesus so we can make a difference in our community and in our world.  Your whole life becomes a representation of the Gospel. 

I know there will be moments where we have to intentionally engage with the others about hard spiritual matters (afterlife, heaven and hell, born again, God and suffering, etc).  We absolutely need have these theological conversations.  But the reality we face as the everyday Christian is sharing Jesus with someone can be overwhelming to many.  But when Jesus becomes your life, is your life, talking about Jesus to others becomes less intimidating.

The church in Thessalonica understood this well. “We were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel but our whole lives as well.”  1 Thessalonians 2:8

Bringing people to church to hear about Jesus is one way of sharing Jesus.  Bringing the church to the people is another way of spreading the hope of Christ with the world.  I would argue:  Evangelism best benefits the church when you share your faith rather than evangelism benefits you when the church shares it’s faith.  That’s why the church doesn’t have to be the only valuable entity for sharing Jesus with the world.  You are just as valuable if not more.

The new Young Christian is rethinking evangelism in a new way.  Here are a few thoughts to get you inspired to share Jesus more often:


It’s a different era now than before.  The question of “If you were to die today, do you know where you would go?”  This was a stirring question in the 60’s, 70’s , etc because of the cold war and the nuclear threat was very real to those in this era.  However, today the engagement with others in your community (neighborhood, school, workplace, etc) about Christianity is more of an abrasive issue than in anytime in history.  The culture war is dying out and the idea of being in a “battle” is an imagery that is less appealing to both Christians and non-Christians.  If we posture ourselves to a dialogue than engage in a battle for truth, we will most likely be more effective.

PART 2 is next….



PART 5: My Friend Is gay So How Do I Relate As A Christian?


If you haven’t checked out our other Parts to this article, you can read them here….

QUESTION 8:  Are homosexuals going to hell?


Christianity is saying that, you want God to be in charge and not you. Christianity is putting Jesus as your Savior and making Him Lord of your life.  It’s removing you from calling the shots and having God call the shots.  


Hell is complete separation from God.  It’s not a place that God looks at and finds pleasure in by watching and saying, “I told you so.”  No.  Hell is the absence of God.  If God is and is the source of peace, joy, love, hope, pleasure, etc.  Then to remove God from a place would result in anger, hate, hoplelessnes, pain, etc. Hell was meant for the fallen angels who chose to reject God’s care and kindness.  


People that follow God choose to not live by their own choices but try to align their choices to God and live under surrender to God telling them what to do.  People go to heaven because they want to submit to God. They want God to be over them, protect them, love them, provide for them, etc.  People that “choose hell” say they don’t want to live under the rule and reign of God to tell them what to do.  They want to live by their own rules. That’s why they choose hell because they choose their own spiritual destiny on their own terms.  You are ultimately living for yourself so in the end it’s up to you to save yourself.  If you want to live for God, you get His salvation and you get God forever. If you don’t want to be with God and you want to be your own savior then you get that as well.



My point, you don’t go to hell for being a homosexual…you go to hell for rejecting Jesus. 

Jesus talks about greed 10x more than sexual adultery.  You know when you are committing adultery.  No one thinks they are greedy.  However the Bible ismuch harder on greed.  Greed disqualifies you from heaven just as much as homosexuality will.  What sends you to hell is being your own God. A life without Jesus a savior, sends you to hell…not homosexuality,  




Question 9: Can you go from being gay to being straight?


Let me say this again, Deliverance from homosexuality was never about becoming a heterosexual. It was about becoming a “son or daughter of God."  As a child, you have an inheritance and you have every right to inherit what is rightfully yours because of what Jesus did on the cross for us. 


“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 


My opinion:  I will encourage holiness more than hetersosexuality.  If you are gay, the goal is not to become hetersosexual by finding the hottest girl in church and falling in love with them, marrying them, etc.  The goal is finding your Savior and falling in love with Jesus. 


Holiness has a bad rap. Holiness is protecting what is most valuable, sacred and special.  It’s keeping it safe, set apart, secure and protected.   That is your relationship with God.  So choose to fight against what could hurt this special and sacred relationship.   Fiercely protect and nurture your relationship with God.  It’s defending and safeguarding your “commitment” when you became a Christian.  Making Holiness less list of “no’s” about everything around you and more a singular “yes” to God in everything He brings you.  Holiness is embracing who you are with God rather than resisting who you are without God.  It’s proving who God is first and then revealing who you are second. That's the difference between “what I can do because of God’s Holiness” instead of “what I can do for God’s Holiness.” 


When the Holy Spirit fills you at your faith conversion, you become Holy.  Not only that but your family becomes Holy, your career becomes Holy, your classroom becomes Holy, etc.  The opinions of others become powerless and the convictions of God become powerful.  So, a change of situation doesn’t lead to a change of conviction.  A change of feeling doesn’t lead to a change of faith.  You continue to stay true to who you are despite your surroundings.  It’s less “being in the world but not of it” and instead becomes more about “belonging in the world and restoring it.” 


Holiness is being set apart so that you can go back into the crowds and be a compelling force to affect the actions, behavior, and opinions of others.  Holiness is influence.  David was set apart in a field and set apart by Samuel so that he could go into the crowds of soldiers and influence a King, an army and a giant.  Moses was set apart in the wilderness to go back into culture of Egypt to change the hearts of an administration of oppression.  Jesus was set apart in a desert so He could go back and face the opposition.  Holiness doesn’t keep us separated but compels us to run towards our Pharisees, our giants, our pharaoh’s and our devils.



"So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. " 1 Peter 1:14-16 NLT




Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to build empathy with those around you who are experiencing same-sex attraction:


How would your life change if you had same sex attraction’ 

How would it affect your relationships?

How should it affect your future

Hoe would it effect your faith?


SO TRY TO UNDERSTAND AND GET COMPASSION AND EMPATHY. You will fall into one of thesefive different evangelical responses to homosexuality:


1) Gay-hating Christians

These so-called Christians abhor homosexuals. Some are moved to violence and others hold protests and hold up signs that say God hates “gay-people.” (They use a more derogatory term, obviously). They even protest the funerals of soldiers who were killed in combat with signs like God hates gay-people” and “God hates America.” 



2) Gay-opposing Christians

These Christians give resistance to the gay community and say you are not welcome here. They join boycotts of companies that offer anything that appears to be gay-friendly. They separate themselves from gay co-workers, classmates, and or teachers. They use phrases like, “homosexual agenda” to talk about all gay people. They don’t pray for gay people. They don’t walk across the room to befriend gay people. They see all homosexuals as enemies of the Christian faith. 



3) Gay-neutral Christians

These Christians are clueless. They do not read newspapers. They do not go online.  They don’t engage culture and they certainly don’t care what outsiders think about them. They are modern day monastic Christians that are completely indifferent. You ask them what they think about homosexuality in our culture and they say, “No comment.”


4) Gay-friendly Christians

These Christians have straight friends and gay friends. They remain faithful to the Scriptures teaching and so they do not condone the homosexual lifestyle of their gay friends, but neither do they condemn their gay friends. They love and care for gay people and gently look for ways to show them the truth and grace available in Christ. 


5) Gay-affirming Christians

These Christians affirm homosexuals in their sexual orientation. They communicate the love of Christ by accepting loving, monogamous, conceptual homosexual relationships with disregard to Scripture, etc. They accept homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle for followers of Christ.




So how should we live if we want to change the perceptions of outsiders and be a better representative of Jesus in the world? For me it is to become gay-friendly. Each of the other options do not fit with biblical guidelines. It is Christ-like to be gay-friendly, because Jesus himself was called a friend of sinners,


Luke 6:34 NIV The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘


If homosexuality is a sin, then we can be friends of sinners like Jesus was a friend of sinners. Without doing in harm to the spirit of the text, you could remove the words “tax collectors and sinners” with “gay and lesbians.” To gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgendered people, I want to say, “I am sorry. Will you forgive us for being so un-Christ like? I don’t have any gay friends, but I am interested in making new friends.”


We as Christians need to confess and repent and become gay-friendly.

Did this help you find some answers?

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PART 4: My Friend Is gay So How Do I Relate As A Christian?


If you haven’t check this article out from the beginning, please start here…

Question 4:  Is Gay Marriage really bad?


Gay marriage is becoming more normal in our culture today.  Jen Hatmaker, celebrated Christian author and speaker shared her views, and how they’ve changed, on same-sex marriage. When asked if she believed a same-sex union could be holy, Hatmaker said, “I do.” She went on to say, “And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting.”


Hatmaker’s continues by talking about the pain that many of those experiencing same-sex attraction feel when it comes to being gay and the relationship with the church.  Jen says, 


 “I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church. Every believer that witnesses that much overwhelming sorrow should be tender enough to do some hard work here,” Hatmaker said.


That pain point drove her to shift her position on the LGBT community to the point of acceptance.  I will put it strongly here:  She has chosen to focus on relationships over biblical truth.  It’s important for me as a pastor, for other Christians and the church in general to be aware of the pain that someone who is gay and who feels rejected by their church community and their faith.  To find compassion and empathy with those struggling with same-sex attraction. Jen’s position reflects a broader shift in culture on the issue of gay marriage. Over the last decade, prominent voices have departed from traditional biblical views on same-sex marriage (Tony Campolo, Rob Bell, etc.)—as well as a steady increase among Christians who’ve shifted their support in favor.


According to a Pew Research, the acceptance of same-sex marriage has been on the rise since 2001, both in the general public and within the church.  Check out these statistics: 


*Roughly 6 in 10 Catholics (58 percent) now support same-sex marriage, as do nearly two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (64 percent).


*Support for same-sex marriage among black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants remains lower than it is among other religious groups. 


*Both groups, however, have become somewhat more accepting of same-sex marriage over the last decade


*In fact, we’ve seen a 13 percent increase in same-sex marriage approvalwithin the evangelical community since 2005.


If we can learn something from the Hatmaker, it’s that the discussion surrounding same-sex unions is not going away anytime soon, and the increasing acceptance—both in the general society and within the church—means we can’t afford to ignore the issue.

Will the church continue to hurdle over biblical truth toward cultural acceptance, in one giant leap, or will it find ways to embrace the homosexual community with truth and grace?


A story of Jesus in Mark can help bring clarity.  Some religious leaders came to Jesus to ask Him about divorce.  As mentioned earlier, Jesus was shaking things up for the religious community and for the greater culture at hand.  The instution of marriage was coming “under attack” in Jesus day with a high demand in the spiritual community for divorce.  The Pharisees were asking him some questions about divorce, when Jesus takes them back to the beginning to God’s original plan. Jesus is making a point that this plan hasn’t changed since the beginning, it hasn’t changed during the 1stCentury AD and would continue on through the centuries.  Jesus responded to the Pharisees questions about marriage by saying,


 “19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[aand said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  Matthew 19:1-6





When the Pharisees ask about divorce, Jesus points back to the Genesis account.  Jesus believed that what Moses wrote, captured God’s plan for sex and marriage which is why Jesus said, “haven’t you read?” (verse 4). Jesus also quotes genesis 1 and 2:24 reminding those around Him that heterosexual marriage is permanent institution for one flesh for one lifetime. Men and woman are both made in God’s image and have infinite dignity. God blesses them to procreate and fill the earth as one flesh in marriage.


Jesus responds in an insightful way that he who created them from the beginning the two shall become one flesh. There are many ways couples can fit together.  One might be extrovert, the other an introvert.  Some are loud and some are more quiet.  Some are good at budgets and some love to spend. They compliment each other.  They “fit” together.  Marriage is predicated on gender plain and simple.  


On a theological level, both sexes reflect God's image. And on a biological level, both are necessary for reproduction and sustaining life. The Bible teaches, and nature demonstrates, that humans are "sexually dimorphic."  What does that mean?  It means that there are clear differences between male and female. Simply put, God has given us from the beginning a positive, healthy and life-affirming vision for the two sexes.  Our bodies reveal the truth about the meaning of life and through our bodies make visible the love of God. 


In the act of lovemaking the two become one.  It’s a picture of diversity and unity.   Just like the Trinity, the man and the woman are different but equal.  Separate but the same person.  A trinitarian expression of one flesh between man, woman and God.  The only Godly alternative to a Biblical marriage is singleness.  Jesus isn’t neurtral on this.  The Bible only refers to marriage between a man and a woman. So much so if you don’t get married the option is celibacy.  


Some would say that “gay orientation” wasn’t talked about in the Bible.  Sexual orentaiton doesn’t change God’s design of marriage.  In my reading of Matthew 19, there is an affirmation that God designed marriage for male and female and goes out of his way to show this. Marriage is only ever talked about as heterosexual.  



Jesus acknowledges that this is a hard word for some to hear.  Read below what Jesus says regarding this,


Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”  Matthew 19:8-12


Jesus is talking in the same context as earlier about marriage and divorce.  He then goes broader to say that while marriage is between a man and a woman.  If you have to break this covenant, it is difficult.  To the point where Jesus calls it like He sees it by saying, “Not everyone can accept this word” (vs. 11).  Because the fact is that marriage isn’t for everybody.  Need I remind you that Jesus was a heterosexual male that chose a celibate life for 33 years as mentioned earlier.  To be celibate is to be like Jesus!  So to all my single friends…you are a lot more like Jesus than you think.


He then references eunichs (castrated men who work in the royal courts) and makes the claim that there are those who “live like eunichs” or in other words, live like men who will not partake of sex, for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.  But Jesus also makes the stunning remark that there were even those who were “born that way (verse12).  Incidently, this is the first time we can see some men are born sexually dysfunctional.  While one could make an argument that being born “without equipment” is the equivalent to be “born gay” is a stretch in my opinion.   But even if one does make that leap of logic, jesus answer to that is still…to be single.  Jesus could have spoke to us and spoke into the future and said, if you are born that way, then find love and be happy with someone like you.  Being God and knowing how culturally confused people would bein the 21stcentury in this matter and seeing how much of a debate this would bring the church.  Yet he was clear that marriage is a man and woman.  Done.  The other beautiful way to live your life would be to be celibate and single.  Be celibate for the sake of the Kingdom and NOT find a husband and tie the knot.   



For the celibate human, it’s not just about resisting same sex attraction.  It’s about embracing the emotional needs that those who are celibate …whether you are experiencing same sex-attraction or not.  To be celibate and single, if so then that is what God is calling you to.  Surely that’s a challenge.  If the churches message is just resist the tempations and be celibate, who will support the single man or woman?  This is the kind of stuff that we have to talk about as the church.  




All of creation is broken, marred  and crying out for redemption (Romans 8:22).  All of creation is needing to be realigned back to God’s original best.  ALL of us our out of sync in all areas of life. All of us are attracted to things we shouldn’t be:  porn, alcohol, shallow beauty, drugs, etc.  You could say we are all broken, bent and skewed.  None of us are straight.  Same sex attraction is one expression of many areas of brokenness in our lives as we are born into this world.  But Christ came to make us right with the world again. Showing us that while aligning ourselves to our feelings isn’t good, but aligning ourselves to our purpose is best. 










Essentially, the argument is not about who you are in a relationship with, because its not about gender but about faithfulness.  I’ve heard some of people in the gay community use this as an opportunity for permission to be in a gay relationship.  The thought is that if two people love each other, are committed and choose to be devoted to each other, that is enough to qualify you for a gay relationship that is approved in the eyes of God.  After all, being faithful and committed to your wife or husband is a virtue in the heterosexual world that is praiseworthy and deserving of praise. The same should hold true for the homosexual relationship as well.  


The argument is that good virtues in a good relationships give it validity.  But good virtues in a bad relationship doesn’t make it right. I’ve met couples where the boyfriend is committed to his wife but yet is abusing her physically.  Good virtue of commitment.  Bad relationship with abuse.  


There is an example of a relationship that was Biblically forbidden in 1 Corinthians 5. It was a case of incest:  a son was sleeping with his mother (1 Corinthians 5:1-2).  Paul declares this sexual relationship forbidden.  So much so that he even says those outside of faith consider this intolerable.  Paul doesn’t pose the question, “Are they faithful to each other? Because if they are, that’s justification for a forbidden relationship to be justifiable in our community.”  Of course not.  The Bible doesn’t make faithfulness to the other person, as a stamp of approval.   I love the commitment Neil Patrick Harris has to his husband and family.  But no matter how many virtues they, and many other gay relationships exhibit in their relationship, it doesn’t make the relationship Biblically justified.









QUESTION 6: This relationship I have is the best thing that’s happened to me and now I’m asked to give it up? 


Many people struggling with same-sex attraction have been feeling what they have been feeling at early ages.  It’s all they’ve known.  How it’s origin started, the possible conditions that forged these longings, the feelings of being alone and thinking they may never marry or have the life they were expected to have as a heterosexual, becomes something very hard to live with. So when the person confesses their same sex attraction, it becomes freeing for the person who is struggling. They are finally “themselves.” And they become part of the gay community.  This community is accepting, loving and caring for them.  Perhaps they eventually find a partner that they begin to love on a deeper level.  This person grows to be a valuable and lifegiving relationship for them. 


Most people want, even need, a relationship that they can love like their own soul.  For some gay people, they lacked healthy affection from an appropriate same sex relationship.  That lack of affection, combined with their brokenness from their sinful nature, creates a fractured longing that wasn’t met by a father, mother, sibling, friend, etc.  Now that desire is still there but is being fulfilled by someone who is meeting that need emotionally, intellectually, physically and sexually.  Basically, for the gay individual, they desired a healthy relationship with the same sex but it has become bent over time because of circumstances, our sinful condition, etc.  But they will never be fully content because the desire is being met from the wrong source. When the source is Jesus, the relationship takes on a healthy meaning and a fulfilling purpose.


Look at David and Johnathan. Many in the gay community try to typecast this as a gay love affair.  Of course many try to imply that but of course that isn’t present.  But there is something in that story that compels the broken man, for example, that he can have affection from another man that doesn’t involve sex and marriage with another man.  Look at their exchange, 


“After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” 1 Samuel 18:3


The Bible makes it clear that Jonathan loved David “as himself” (1 Sam. 18:3). Jonathan’s love was selfless and heroic. Even though he was in line to be the next king of Israel, he recognized David would step into that role—and Jonathan not only celebrated his friend as the rightful king but also protected him from his father’s spear-throwing episodes. Jonathan’s love was not lust but a love bound in sacrifice. He laid down his rights so his friend could be promoted. He opposed his father’s self-willed ambition and instead affirmed that David should be the true king. Jonathan showed us all how to be a true friend. David’s comment that his friend’s love was “more wonderful than the love of women” was not sexual; he was praising Jonathan’s loyalty and brotherly devotion to him while in one of the most difficult times in his life. 


To be honest I find a homosexual interpretation of this text to be offensive. There is no sexual expression used in this text. And too assume that two men cannot deeply and affectionately love each other without it being a homosexual relationship is a sign of how over-sexed and over-politicized our culture has become



One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in 1 Peter 2:17, 




“Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”




This is the only time in the Bible you will find the phrase, “love the brotherhood.”  There is something in the heart of God that He puts in this Scripture that compels you to build healthy relationships with those of the same sex. I realize the term is “brotherhood” but put the word, “sisterhood” in there and it holds the same conviction. But I do want to speak to men in this paragraph specifically.  God wired men to need close friends, but few of us are willing to build those kinds of relationships because of insecurity, inferiority or pride. Many guys are lonely, isolated and afraid to admit they need help. Some may even struggle with sexual confusion, yet they could find healing through a combination of the Holy Spirit’s power and healthy male bonding. The church today should do everything possible to encourage male friendships.


You can’t hijack the contextual meaning of what was really happening in the Scriptures here in the greater context to promote an agenda or an ideology. It is flat-out wrong to suggest that anything sexual was going on between David and Jonathan. Yet many leaders in the gay-affirming communities tend to “twist” this Scripture in order to promote their personal convictions. 



I lay out these Scriptures to say, when a gay person is confronted with the truth that their relationship and lifestyle might be completely wrong, there is a hard reality that they might be asked to walk away…and that is a massive cost to those who have found belonging and acceptance by a community that affirms their inner feelings and desires so strongly.  Yet when it comes to walking away from relationships that matter for the sake of Christ, Jesus says,


And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.  Matthew 19:29


Jesus assumes the greatest cost is relational.  And may you will lose relationships that are very valuable to you when you follow Christ. But you will receive back far more than leave in this life.  Jesus said the hardest thing to walk away from is relationships.  That’s why the reward is 100 times more in return from Jesus because that reflects the cost of what you have to give up relationally to follow Christ.  



If you leave a loved one, Jesus promises you will have more family and not less.  And for that promise to be true, we have to be doing church in the right kind of way.  Getting this issue right is a team effort.  Church is a team effort.  Our Christian communities must be places that whatever people have to leave behind, they find a net increase in family and intimacy in the local church.  


The Gosple puts us on a level playing field.  We are all in need of grace.  We are all broken people in need of being healed and whole.  Paul describes himself as the “chief sinner” (1 Timothy 1:15).  And if that’s the case, we should view all sins and brokenness in the context of our own sinful condition.  When you’ve truly seen the sin in your own heart, you don’t find other’s sins “disgusting” or “repulsive” due to the gravity of your own.







QUESTION 7:  Can you be gay and be a Christian?


The short version: yes…but not for long.  


Let me explain. 


You are made of three parts: body, soul and spirit.  

According to the Bible, mankind is distinct from all the rest of creation, including the animals, in that he is made in the image of God. As God is a tripartite -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- so are also made in three parts -- body, soul and spirit.  We know this from the Bible from the book of Thessalonians, 


Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spiritand soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NASB).



The body of course is our physical body that we receive at birth that becomes God’s body at our salvation experience,


Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20


Our soul is the Greek word, "psyche", which consists of the mind, the conscience, our will to make choices and our emotions.  Genesis 2:7 says that Man was created as a "living soul."  Some of the Scriptures can also refer to this as the heart. 


Our spirit is our “pneuma” or in other word, it’s God’s “breath” into us that gives us life.  God says this about the spirit is critical. The Scriptures defines pneuma as this,



And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7





For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:26



We live in a congruent union with all three of these parts of our humanity working together. When you experience salvation, your Spirit becomes instantly transformed.  Before salvation, your spirit is not redeemed but looking to make connection.  That’s why many are drawn to spiritual things, there is a curiosity in what happens after you die, etc.  After salvation, it becomes your connection to God.  This transformation is instant and nothing can separate you from this connection to God. 


Your soul becomes slowly transformed over time.  Your choices begin to change.  Your thinking begins to change as you learn who Jesus is what He wants for your life. That’s why Romans 12:1-2 speaks about not being conformed but transformed.  That word transformed is the word we use for the metamorphosis from cocoon to butterfly.  It’s a growing transformation that isn’t instant but progressive.  You slowly understand the mind and heart of God as you read His word and experience His truth on a regular basis.  


Your body is under the effects of the fall of humanity with Adam.  For most of us our bodies will grow up to be healthy and strong. Eventually these bodies will experience slow decay and eventually death.  Even at your salvation experience, your body may experience a miracle of healing in your lifetime but your body won’t be healed and whole till you get to heaven.  


When you experience salvation, Your spirit becomes transformed instantly to be connected to God. Your previously unredeemed spirit becomes new and you can commune with God regularly.  Your body is redeemed, it doesn’t instantly transform into a new body but you will receive a new body when you enter heaven.  At salvation, your soul (mind, will, choices, emotions, etc) begins to make new decisions and you begin thinking differently.  It goes against “what you’ve always known” but you now have choices to make on a daily basis to choose God’s will or your own. Each choice transforms your soul until you get to heaven.  


Now put this in context to the person experiencing same-sex attraction.  At salvation, their spirit transformation occurs and they have their new connection with God.  They are praying, hearing God’s voice, loving worship, reading the Bible, etc.  Their body is redeemed.  They may receive a miracle of healing throughout their life, but their body will be physically whole when they get to heaven.  At salvation, the gay person’s soul doesn’t become conformed but transformed by their mind being renewed on a daily basis. They begin to see their attitude of unforgiveness towards their co-worker begin to be highlighted and they start making moves towards reconciliation.  They may also begin to see their desire to get drunk regularly become something that isn’t healthy or right in the eyes of God and they will start drinking less.  They may stop using substances and begin to go to church regularly instead of sporadically. The more this gay individual attends worship services and hears the Scriptures, the next conviction begins to surface which involves his sexual identity and relationship choices.  That conviction begins to grow and slowly they start asking questions.  They start praying for God to “take the feelings away” and they start re-evaluating their gay lifestyle.  


This was a hypothetical scenario.  


But it is real to many gay Christians. 


It is real also to straight Christians. 


When I became a Christian, I still drank, smoked and had the wrong mindset towards dating girls due to cultures “rules and regulations” that I followed.  But once I became a follower of Jesus, I stopped getting drunk.  And then I slowly stopped drinking.  I quit smoking six months after finding Christ. I got rid of the bad movies and music that was making me feel depressed, bad and simply not good a year after I was a Christian.  I slowly stopped saying  “that’s f**king nuts” and started saying “that’s freaking nuts” (sorry for the jarring explanation but I can do another blog about “Christian swearing at my convenience).  

You get my point.  


My transformation into the likeness of Christ takes time. 


So it will for the gay Christian.


A lot of heterosexual Christians think Christianity is the worst sin so God must want to work on that sin first.  God is a God of order.  He knows the right process and the right order of healing and restoring someone. God could and my start highlighting that conviction right away or their may be “more important business to attend to” before God starts convicting the area of same-sex attraction.  They gay lifestyle is just that…a “lifestyle.” If you are gay, your sexual choices affects who you love, who your friends are, what you talk about, what you celebrate, what you live for, how you think, how you act, how you talk, how you see the world, how you interact with others, etc.  A lifestyle isn’t just a “feeling” or a “choice” but it’s essentially “a life.” To those I have encountered that have come out of the gay lifestyle, it takes a tremendous amount of patience and time. And then it takes a tremendous about of grace to place those feelings and desire under the cross regularly.  


It’s important to understand this “trinitarian design” because i helps us to understand our sexuality as well.  You can interpret Scripture through the lense of sexuality or you can interpret sexuality through the lens of Scripture.  The Word of God is living and active it says in Hebrews,


12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12 NIV


The Bible is making a distinction here between the soul and the spirit.  It’s saying that your spirit will make distinctions about what is right and wrong because of your connection with God that you have as a Christian. But your feelings, your attitudes, your thoughts and cultural ideas will confuse you at times.  Your feelings can lead you astray.  I have cried watching movies before but that story wasn’t true, it was a fictitious story brought to life!  And it convinced my soul to evoke an emotion that was very real about a narrative that wasn’t true.  


My point, our thoughts can be deceptive.  Our emotions can lead us astray.  Our feelings can convince us something is real that isn’t.  That’s why God uses the words “it judges” what you are experiencing in your soul.  Judges gives you a verdict of truth an innocence after looking at the facts. Judges can also prove guilt and false narratives.  As Christians, we use the Scriptures to affirm what God is speaking to our soul and spirit to show us the way of a Godly life. 


There is not a single positive reference to homosexual relationships in the Bible.  I’m sorry there just isn’t.  Every single reference is negative in the strongest possible terms. It’s plain.  Now, some would say that the Bible is misused to sanction slavery, segregation, oppression of women.  Some would say to sanction ant-homosexual prejudice.  


Listen, if you are quoting bible to have bad behavior-that’s wrong.  We know that,  But yes, in regards to slave trade, William Wilberforce used Scriptures to end slave trade. Slavery in Scripture was a different order back in the history.  The laws and customs were different.  They were indentured servants.  More importantly, the Bible is a book of liberation.  The Bible is about setting slaves free!  It doesn’t speak in praise of slavery.  Like indentured servant paying off debt.  It was Christian leaders coming out churches leading the anti-segregation movement.  There is not a single verse in the Bible that says one race is superior than others. In regards to women, they were praised and raised up.  They were praised by Jesus and liberated by Jesus.  Woman playing esteemed roles in the Scriptures.  So, to use the Bible to oppress women is a misuse of the Bible.  The Bible is a book of liberation.  


Jesus could have looked into the 21stcentury.  He knew that humanity would need to address this issue.  He looked directly into future Christianity.  He could have been clear as he was with EVERYTHING else in the Bible.  He was clear on Marriage, loving others, generosity, sexual behavior, different , etc. If homosexuality was as “cut and dry” as those in culture are trying to make it, Jesus would have made it clear.  He would have looked into 2018 and said, “let’s not make them guess, homosexuality is permitted.”  

But Jesus didn’t say that. 


He was perfectly clear. 


Homosexuality is wrong in the Old Testament. 


Homosexuality was wrong in the New Testament.  


Homosexuality was wrong by Jesus. 



Even writing this, hurts my heart for my gay friends, my gay students and others whom I love.  That doesn’t change the fact that I love them! Never will!  They will always be ACCEPTED by me and my family.  I am here as a pastor, my congregation is here as a church and I am here as a friend and as someone who loves the gay relationships in my life and will be there for them no matter what. 


David Kinneman wrote in his book, Unchristian, this quote about the church and homosexuality,


“Outsiders say[church’s] hostility toward gays—not just opposition to homosexual politics and behaviors but disdain for gay individuals—has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.”


Christians need to be less hostile and more graceful. I think of the woman caught in the act of adultery.  It was the crowd vs the woman.  The religious community was sitting in judgment against the woman.  Jesus response to crowd is you are so focused on the sin when you have your own sins to deal with.  Like divorce, while it’s a sin people are in pain, the church talks about how bad divorce is.  Like porn, while it’s a sin and you are in pain the church talks about how bad porn is. Then Jesus says to the woman,” I don’t condemn you.  Go and sin no more” (John 8:10).  We need to shift our position of telling those who are in sin and dealing with pain, how bad they are, and start to reveal to them how good they can be with the grace and love of Jesus. This is the ultimate grace.  Grace is the answer. We have to show grace to our gay friends and family members.  May gay people are in pain.  If people are in pain the church is there to bring healing and

QUESTION 8: Do homosexuals go to hell?


 Part 5 is next…





PART 3: My Friend Is gay So How Do I Relate As A Christian?


If you haven’t checked out the previous parts, please click here…

QUESTION 1:  If God is my creator then why did God create gay people?

The bible says a few big things about all of us.  Each of us has been made and created by God to be intentional and personal.  We are all fallen and “out of sync” with God. We are not good at being the people God made us to be.  Because of our fallen condition (Romans 3:23).  Our “desires are skewed” and our “affections are flawed.”  It’s not the case that God created gay and lesbian feelings. God created people. God doesn’t create what he opposes but created something good that became broken.  


It all started with a desire to sin.  That desire came through our resistance to God.  Humanity didn’t want God telling them how to live.  They wanted to live according to their own rules, feelings and desires.  So humanity resisted God and chose to “be god” instead. They didn’t want God “controlling them.” Left under their own control, humanity realized that wasn’t going to work well for them in the long run.  They saw their choice to live by their own rules instead of according to God’s love left them wanting.  So they recognized their fallen condition and they chose God again.  But at a cost.  That cost was through the “shedding of blood” to symbolize the severity of a life without God (Romans 9:22).  A life that results in spiritual death (Romans 6:23).  


Through our reconciliation with Jesus, we have life again.  A spiritual future with God forever…just like He intended from the beginning.  But while we are “forgiven” we still experience desires and feelings from our “old life.” Those desires are seen from the beginning when my three-year-old son was wanting the world to “revolve around him” and he wanted to live according to only what he wants when he wants it.  Our desire to live by our “feelings and desires” are experienced right from birth and will continue till we die.  But God makes it clear that those feelings and desires become less and less the closer we follow God and the longer we live for God. Even though you still have those feelings and desires at times, those temptations and sins are not counted against you,


“Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  I Corinthians 6:9-11


You are washed clean. You are sanctified or in modern language, “set apart” as part of God’s family and future.  And you are also justified which means “those feelings and actions you may have as a lover of God” won’t disqualify you from heaven. You are just in God’s eyes because of Jesus sacrifice for you and your spiritual future in heaven. 


Notice, even the Bible references homosexuality in this text “men who have sex with men” who will become different because of Jesus and their stories of celebration were heard in the church as “that is what some of you were.”  Were.  They experienced lifechange because of what Jesus has done and they chose to resist and live differently.  Not because the church hated them, but because Jesus loved them.  That love they experienced compelled men (and women obviously) in that community to live differently .  They chose to resist a life lived by their choices and made the singular choice to live for Christ. 





QUESTION 2:  Ok, so if the Bible disagrees with the homosexual lifestyle, where is it?


One of the most potent verses on homosexuality is found in Romans.  Paul is writing to the most prominent culture of the day.  Roman culture was the dominant thought and voice of the day.  Roman culture was everywhere and God’s people were surrounded by it.  So, he writes to expose the culture and those influencing culture (think of those on our modern version of tv, blogs, vlogs, youtubers, etc) within the first few verses.  


In the first collection of sentences, the Bible makes clear that at the time, there were those proclaiming to be wise about culture (The Dr. Phil’s of the day, the talk show’s, etc.). But their perceived wisdom was actual “foolish” ideas.  Not only that, the people in the culture believed the foolish ideas and they chose to exchange the truth that they had grown up with, what they knew and what they had been taught, and they chose to exchange them for these foolish ideas. And in turn, these choices became lie they believed.  These lies effected the families and friends who were outsiders to faith and those who were professing Christians.  These lies fueled their passion to live a life that was different from the Bible and ultimately against God.  



See the text below, 



“18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Romans 1:18-27




You have to look at the larger context in this passage in Romans 1.  Paul is saying God is “revealed in nature.”  It’s plain and it’s obvious in creation…and that creation also meaning male and female relationships.  Referencing it from the beginning (back to Genesis, even).  But people chose to exchange the plain truth for lies.  They wanted to “believe in something different.” They proclaimed to have a “wisdom” on cultural issues. Claiming to have “new truth” to give the permission to “live differently.” But the Bible says clearly, their hearts were “darkened.” Professing to be “wise on cultural beliefs and ideas,” they were acutally foolishly wrong on their ideas. They exchanged truth for falsehoods. 


Some argue that this is written in context of this passage of homosexuality is written in regards to idol worship.  Some argue that Paul was speaking of “pederasty.”  Pedersasty is essentially sex between men and boys. That behavior was seen in different types of temple worship.  While this argument has some truth, Paul does make it clear by NOT referenceing sex between men and boys, but actually sex between two men.  So the issue wasn’t temple worship but homosexual activity that was happening in Roman culture at the time.  



Not only that this passage also is the strongest and clearest and only Biblical reference to “lesbianism” in verse  26. This is clearly not about temple worship but homosexual behavior in both genders.  People never came up with this interpretation until after the sexual revolution.  Giving our current culture “permission” to be in a consentual gay relationship.  But again, Paul is referencing relationships beyond temple prostitution and sex.  He’s talking about natural created order using several words that he is using form Genesis 1.  Basically word for word.  




Why believe the Scriptures to be true and authoritative you might be thinking?  




Because Jesus believes the Bible to be true and authoritative.  




I believe the Bible because Jesus believes the Bible.  



It’s a book of truth and not a book of suggestions or options. Even when Jesus comes to bring us the New Testament (NT), He didn’t come to “out-date” the Bible for us but to fulfill the Bible for us.  Jesus says Himself,


17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20


When you read the Old Testament (OT), the tendency is to say it doesn’t connect to us anymore.  Jesus clearly says here that His entrance into the world makes the OT and the NT work complete.  The NT isn’t a “better Bible” but that the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures make us and God’s Word, complete.  Jesus loved the OT and we should to.  Jesus quotes the OT and we should too.  Jesus trusts the Bible and we should too.  Jesus is the complete fulfillment of the Bible.   





Let’s just go right into it. The Bible puts homosexuality into print in the Old Testament.  Let’s take a look at what it has to say:



“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”  Leviticus 18:22


“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”  Leviticus 20:13








These phrases are blatant. It’s wrong.  Biblically, it’s wrong.  Now, the thought is  that these are “outdated Scriptures.”  Outdated just like not eating pork, shellfish, wearing make-up, etc.  There are spiritual practices in the Bible that speak to God’s people being restricted for national reasons – don’t eat pork or shellfish, don’t sow two different kinds of seeds in your field, don’t have sex with a woman if she’s on her period (awkward but ok), not wearing garments of two fibers such as cotton socks and a wool sweater, getting a tattoo, etc. 



But then there are moral practices for all humanity…despite what you worship.  Like murder, beastiality, etc.  God is speaking in this context that are universal prohibitions that not only for God’s people (the Israelites) that they should not indulge in but even the Egyptians, the Cannanite’s and all other nations shouldn’t indulge in then as well.  Spiritual objections for prohibitions for God’s people versus universal moral prohibitions as human beings.  


When you look at the specific context of Leviticus, that was specifically in the context of universal moral prohibitions (along with child sacrifice, incest, etc). That’s why God called it an abomination in Leviticus.  It’s absolutely wrong in God’s eyes no matter who you are…follower of God or not.  While wrong, God is forgiving and loving to no matter where we are at.  


What about incest or beastality?  Are these just cultural “no-no’s” for the “old Biblical days” or would we say incest is wrong in our day and age or having sex with a housepet?  Sorry.  Blatant? Yes.  Should it shock you?  Absolutely. Is it wrong…hard to say it but yes. 


The moral laws in the Old Testament, such as those prohibiting killing, stealing, lying, adultery, sexual immorality and so on, are all valid today. Jesus referred often to the Old Testament and said that He didn't come to abolish “the law” but to fulfill it. Jesus referred to the Old Testament often in regard to moral behavior. The consequences of wrong actions may have changed, but the moral implications remain the same. For instance, even though we no longer stone to death those who commit adultery, this does not mean that adultery is acceptable or any less dangerous. Adultery is wrong, even though there aren't legal consequences. The same applies to homosexuality in the Biblical context as well. 






QUESTION 3: Did Jesus mention homosexuality?

If you are against homosexuality, you are bigoted, closed minded, hateful, intolerant, etc.  But few people think that way about Jesus.  So the implication is that if Jesus didn’t mention anything about homosexuality then why are Christians freaking out about it? 


Well the answer to that is that Jesus didn’t talk about a lot of things that we would deem as wrong. But the argument from the posture of “silence” is dangerous.  Jesus also didn’t speak about drunk driving, abortion, too much “screen time”, etc. The implication is…if He didn’t talk about it, then why are we freaking out about it.  Did Jesus mention wife-beating?  Canibalism? Does that mean He’s for it?  My point: an argument cannot be based solely on silence. 


To suggest that Jesus approved of homosexuality simply because He did not use the term homosexual is to imply that He approved of necrophilia, pedophilia, incest and bestiality. But, of course, we know better.  From the info we have, it was clear what Jews believed in that day.  Jesus does mention…he does address it, actually. Take a closer look at what Jesus says in Matthew, 


 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”  Matthew 15:17-19 


Jesus is discussing with the religious community.   There are questions about what comes out of the heart is what defiles or contaminates a person.  What contaminates a person is defined by Jesus, Himself.  One of these words that Jesus included in the list that He uses specifically is the word: sexual immorality.  This is the Greek word, “pornia.”  This is where we get the English word, pornography.  That word is what Jesus used as a “catch-all” term for any sexual behavior outside of marriage:  rape, adultery, prostitution, premarital sex, homosexual sex, etc. All sexual relations all outside of marriage.  Basically, all sex outside of Biblical marriage is wrong in the eyes of God and is prohibited. 


While Jesus didn’t specifically name the sin of homosexuality, He did include it.  



For example, let’s say as I’m writing this in my local coffee shop.  Someone walks in and says, “I want to give all the dads in here today free Viking tickets.”  Now I would be eligible to those tickets?  Yes, because I am dad! Although I wasn’t NAMED specifically, I was INCLUDED.  It’s the same idea of what Jesus is saying in Matthew 15.  While he isn’t “naming” homosexuality, he is including it in his list of actions that defile someone.  




Jesus didn’t move in a progressive direction on sex and marriage.  He moved in a more conservative direction based on the Biblical narrative from the beginning.  When asked about divorce which was becoming a more “common cultural norm” Jesus chose to go narrower and not lean into the more “widened and accepted” interpretation of the day.  When Jesus was later asked about adultery, which was happening during the first century, Jesus didn’t give permissions or make excuses because of public opinion.  He also went narrower on that subject as well by explaining it wasn’t the “act” that defiles you but the mere “thoughts” is what defiles you.  See Matthew 5 below,



The culture of Jesus day and ours  seems to attempt to blur our moral boundaries as followers of God.  But we should follow the example of Jesus.  Let’s take our culturally blurred lines and lift them to a higher level instead of lowering them. The more mainstream the ideas of the day, the more exceptional Jesus’ stance was on the topic.  Choosing not to murder was meant to not hate at all. To not commit adultery…simply means don’t lust in your heart.  So with all moral issues in Jesus day AND in ours…let’s choose to take them to a higher level.  Anything that has a “moral question mark” by it, Jesus chose to go towards an even more rigid Biblical meaning…not more approval.  While Jesus embodied and gave grace to many, He still defined Biblical wrongs as clear Biblical wrongs.  

QUESTION 4:  Is gay marriage really that bad?


 Part 4 is next…




PART 2: My Friend Is gay So How Do I Relate As A Christian?


If you haven’t read PART 1, please start here to get context and to be a part of our conversation…

It’s 1995. I stopped by Blockbuster beforehand to pick up Jurassic Park on video to have a movie night with my girlfriend, and future wife, Heidi.  Because dinosaurs are awesome, and she didn’t think so at the time, we made it a priority before going to our young adult community that night to see friends and hear our new series on “Christianity and Culture.” The first question of the week…homosexuality. The message started and then the dialogue started.  Some were passionate about what the Scriptures said about the topic.  Some were curious how God and same-sex attraction could happen, and some chose to speak about how “disgusting” it is.  


In the midst of this dialogue, a man stands up and says that he struggled with homosexuality and that he and his girlfriend were there to hear what our community had to say about it. A brave move on his part.  It turned the direction of our conversation and brought a deeper expression of compassion to our discussion…and the words, “I’m sorry,” to our dialogue as well.  


I invited he and his girlfriend out for burgers with us afterwards and I talked with him about his story and how his journey came to be.  We became fast friends and even roommates for a time.  Our relationship became special because I got to really got to know the “heart” of my gay friend, find a compassion and grace with someone different than me, discover his brokenness and ask questions about his life trajectory.  I also become a strong, heterosexual male friend that he could trust, find encouragement in and watch him become a great husband and loving father.  


That relationship changed me and how I saw homosexuality.  It became personal for me. He became a triumphant victor over his own brokenness and now he is a constant reminder of hope for others who are struggling like him.  Jesus promised all humans 
life to the full.”   Jesus promised he would bring all human beings a flourishing life.  John 10:10 says, “I have come that you may have life, life to the full.”  For everyone who calls on His name. 


Jesus is for the marginalized.  Even when he took flack for it.  He loved those that were despised, those who were different, those that didn’t have value, those struggling with sexual sin, those who were confused about who they were and who God called them to be.  He loved the broken and called them to repentance.  Jesus came to the marginalized and called them to repentance by saying, “Go and sin no more.”  


I think the church has done a great job to teach others to never engage sexual intimacy outside of God’s design for marriage but the church has NOT done a great job at providing love and intimacy to those in the church…especially to those who are gay. Even as a single person, Jesus was fully content.  He was not married, never engaged in sex and was at peace with his sexualty.  Humans can live without sex and marriage.  But not without love and intimacy.  The church needs to be purposeful in creating a community for those that are stuggling with same-sex attraction as a place of belonging and acceptance.  I think our Biblical communities have failed in having safe and life-giving conversations on this topic.  The church as fallen short on grace in this area of human life.  And the purpose of this conversation here is to engage in the topic again with the grace needed to not just engage culture but keep culture interested in what our creator, God, has to say on this deeply serious issue. 



When we are approaching the topic of same-sex attraction, it’s true to say that it is a sensitive topic. It affects so many of us as we can all name a friend or family member who is gay or in a gay relationship. Because this affects so many of us personally, I am desiring to approach this topic sensitively.  Because so much of it is about identity.  Identity affects who we are.  And who we are affects what we do, who we love and how we love.  So we cannot, as the Christian community, be insincere or shallow on this.  We have to handle our conversations and our relationships with care and concern.  It’s so crucially important to minister with compassion in this area.  The last thing we need is to respond without love. Without love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13).  God calls us to be peacemakers.  So when you can bring peace to a heart that is struggling, to a family at war over this issue, to a friendship that wants to love Jesus and their gay community, we need the peace of Christ.  


Christians have to be aware to not come from a vantage point of moral superiority but from the place of belief that Jesus died for both my non-gay friends and my gay friends.  We must lay aside our own agendas, politics and motivations and interests and overcome with good.  We must do our best to understand the hurt and brokenness of those struggling with issues of sexual identity.  We must approach our relationships with compassion.  We must walk in both “grace and truth” (John 1:17).  Not just appealing to emotions alone but to speak to the hearts and minds of those struggling with same-sex attraction.  


Homosexuality is both an issue AND a person.  


As mentioned earlier, I have friends in the gay community.  I love my gay friends.  I am not homophobic.  I have worked in my church building a Biblical community for many years.  I have tried to help bridge the differences and misunderstandings of those who experience same-sex attraction and those in the church. So this topic is important to me and it should be for anyone who is part of a growing, Biblical community that desires the heart of Jesus to be at the center. 

We as the church and as Christians are commanded to love.  Jesus love was potent by accepting everyone.  Jesus didn’t turn someone away because they were “too sinful” or because their sin “offended Him too much.”  Jesus was accepting of everyone and we as the church should be as well.  


However, I want to remind us again that there is a difference between being accepting and approving.  Being accepting doesn’t always mean being approving.  We must be careful as Christians in making affirmation statements such as “God just loves you as you are.”  Today we hear a lot about the importance of being “inclusive” and by inclusive, I mean the affirmation of “accept me as I am to affirm me as I am.”  Jesus mission wasn’t to go to all the world spreading affirmation but instead, Jesus purpose was to bring transformation.  We are received by God for the purpose of transformation from our old sinful tendencies to becoming a child of God and living for God.  


We should also mention that there’s a difference between being in a gay relationship and having same-sex attraction feelings.  I have worked with the next generation for over 20+ years and have had many conversations about sexual identity.  I know people who experience same-sex attraction but who chose to not engage in gay relationships.  They know their sexual desires but they know their spiritual desires, too.  They choose Jesus over their sex drive.  Like many in our heterosexual circles do.  My approach has always been that if you are attracted, let’s talk about it.  If you are having feelings, then let’s acknowledge those feelings and make sense of what that means to God and you.  Let’s walk it out in the safety and acceptance of your friends, your family and your church.  







So how does God feel about this topic?





If God hasn’t spoken on this topic, then we get to decide.  





But God has spoken on it. 





Because God is our designer. He knows us better than we know yourselves.  He made the heaven’s and the earth.  He separated darkness from light, day and night and the earth from the ocean.  Then he took a portion of that earth he created and gave it breath…that clay led to becoming you. 




God is our Creator.




God is our starting point. 




He created us male and female, 

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”


“So God created man in his own image,
 in the image of God he created him;
 male and female he created them.”


“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:26-28; 31 (ESV)



God forms the man from the dust of the earth and breathes the breath of life into him. He then fashions the woman from the man’s side — or as the Bible means, “his heart. “ He separates humans into two sexes, male and female. Each is distinct and valuable, and both reflect the image and likeness of God.  Our word “sex” even comes from a Latin word meaning “to divide or separate,” showing that humanity was separated into two groups, male and female.  Adam rejoices at this creation of Eve, celebrating and recognizing her as his partner, a complement, distinct from any other created being. Helper here is not referenced here as the word for “same” but as in reference to compliment. Literally like a plug and a socket (forgive me, please on this metaphor).  Not two plugs (have I said I’m sorry, yet?).  But it is what God is meaning here. Woman is uniquely formed as a gift for man — and man as a gift for woman— a unique, permanent and covenantal relationship.  This is the sexual ethic from the beginning.  




The Creator has made you to function perfectly with His design.  Anything outside of that design can cause you not to work or function properly. You many not see it or feel it now, but eventually, if you don’t align to the operating system of the Creator, you will experience dysfunction and malfunction.

Think of it like your phone. Your phone has been designed by someone smart enough for it work and function in a certain way.  When our functionality begins to go on fritz is when our phone tries to run according to a different IOS.  It becomes slow, it becomes glitchy, etc.  When it operates how it’s designed, its functionality gives the phone and its user a great freedom.  When the creators original “operating system” is working, your device works.  If the IOS is different than what the creator intends it to be, you have problems.  Any functionality outside of the “Creator” will cause it to malfunction.  God has built the world and operated it in a certain way to operate then it’s only when we live in that operating system we will experience true freedom and function God has designed us for and that we were meant for. 


This is our starting point and our main focus.  Incidentally, the prohibitions of sexual behavior is not heard till later in Scripture (starting in Leviticus.)  .  But from the get-go, God is about showing the model for sexual identity and sexual freedom.  Essentially God’s putting out there right away what He is “for” when it comes to sexual relationships and not what He is “against” until Leviticus.   From the very beginning God has a designing for us a pattern for us to live.  And even beyond just a pattern but a story, a better story for us to live when we love God and follow his example for life. That’s why going back to our origin story in Scripture and what Scripture has to say about sex is so critical.  


Gabe Lyons from the book Good Faith says this:

“As the story of God’s people unfolds the bibles’ sexual ethic grows clearer and remains in line with the Creator’s intentions.  Remember when Jesus started with the seventh commandment, “You must not commit adultery” and raised the bar to a higher standard?  According to Him, entertaining the fantasies of our minds is spiritually on par with committing the sin (see Matt 5:27-30)  This was and is a countercultural way to think about sex, not because it offers us greater self-fulfillment but because it does just the opposite.  Jesus invites us to relinquish together.”


Culture continues to chip away at God’s sexual ethic, Biblical truth and convictions.  The result:  lovers of God who consider casual sex, changing gender, same-sex relationships as normal standards not just in our communities but also in some our Biblical communities. 



I’ve heard young people pray and ask, “why doesn’t God just ‘take it away’?”  God made your sex drive and your sexual attractions powerful for a distinct purpose…to pro-create.  Sexual desire moves you to be with the opposite sex and in the context of marriage for a wonderful and shameless experience.  That’s why sex comes with a “warning label.” We are warned repeatedly in the Song of Songs (2:7; 3:5; 8:4), “…do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” God is speaking beautifully here that there is an appropriate time, place, and person to awaken love with and we need to learn to control ourselves until the appropriate time and place with someone in marriage.  Marriage is not an outdated contract or legal document but a safe place for you to be the most vulnerable and most fulfilled with someone.  




God’s heart about our sexual attractions can be heard by looking at God’s Word says about it.  And at its core, the Word of God is “a good word” because we serve a God whose nature is always, unequivocally good. God’s Word is an expression of His kindness and we can have confidence in His word on any topic of life…especially this topic of homosexuality.  When it comes to sex and marriage, God doesn’t give us a “bad deal” when it comes to sex and marriage.  He does establish a good sexual ethic.  It’ doesn’t mean it’s easy, it might be frustrating even at times …but it’s good.  That’s why God’s message to us through Jesus is called “Good News.” It’s the Gospel.  Jesus died to give you the Gospel. The Gospel is who Jesus is and what He wants for you versus who you are and what you want for you.  


Reality check: 


As a Christian, what’s best for us as humans is laid out in the message of Jesus. That message is,  “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow.”  Jesus isn’t about self-gratification but self-denial. This is a very difficult message for anyone.  Why? Because it’s a message of self-denial. So much of the culture around us is asking “what can I get from you” while Christianity compels us to ask, “what can I give to you?”  


So many Christians are living from a “faulty-gospel foundation.”  This faulty foundation is, “this is who I am and this is how I feel and God is here to please me.”  But the Biblical foundation is “this is who God is, this is how God feels and we are here to please Him.”  Big difference.  We live in a culture that wants to self-indulge.  Without the regard for consequence. How we feel is more important than what is right.  And when it comes to this issue of homosexuality, we need to be reminded that, as in any relationship, it’s not “what I want” that is important but “what God has for me” that is more important.


Just because you feel "attracted to the same sex" doesn’t mean you’re gay.   Maybe as a male, you have a longing to be with other guys because you lacked acceptance and affirmation from other men in your life.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to have a an accepting and affirming relationship with other guys in your life.  All guys need relationships that you can be yourself with and be vulnerable with, in the context of an intimate healthy friendship.  But culture takes that "void feeling" and twists it into you think you need to be sexually intimate with the same sex to feel affirmation and validation.  No, a healthy community will affirm you and remind you who you are who God design you to be.  Biblical intimacy of true love and emotional connection is an intentionality that sets you up for a long sustainability.  This sustainability is affirmed through marriage, commitment, healthy community with similar values on what love and marriage is like. 


You have to remember that your feelings and your temptations are not your identity.  The world says to “look inside you” to find out who you are.  Instead, look to your Creator and see how God desires you to function.  We as Christians need to look outside of ourselves to measure and validate our feelings. 


 Tim Keller attacks our cultural norms by saying,

 “our culture presses its’ members to believe you have to ‘be yourself’ that sexual desires are crucial to a personality identity that any curving strong sexual desires leads to psychological damage.’”   


Keller is exposing the lie that to feel satisfied you have act on your feelings to find yourself and be yourself.  We can’t rely on our feelings as the only reliable source to identify who we are sexually.  We have to look to who God made us to be to fully understand how we can function in a healthy way.  Culture brings chaos to our sexuality but Christ brings a simplicity and an order to our sexuality. 


We have to be aware that there is a longing for intimacy with other people which is felt the strongest when expressed through sex.  Intimacy is emotional, relational and most of the times sexual.  We must resist the desire to pursue premature sexual intimacy and fulfillment (no matter who you are) outside of marriage or we create dysfunction.  You may not see it or feel it now…but it will create dysfunction.  


Jesus was a man.  With a normal desires and drives.  We have to acknowledge that even Jesus had a sexual drive as a man, was tempted in every way we were but didn’t give in to His own temptations, but chose to resist as a single person.  He chose to be single for 33 years and managed his relationships with the utmost purity, honesty and integrity.   See what Hebrews says about Jesus with his humanity, 


This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”  Hebrews 4:15-16

Christians are looking for Biblical ways to satisfy the desire for lifelong companionship.  This desire for intimacy is so strong that it compels some to give up on their Christian beliefs to find intimacy.  That's why casual sex, the gay lifestyle, etc are higher than it's ever been with those who profess a Christian faith.  The Christian community must walk with those who are struggling sexually and affirm healthy relationships through positive and healthy environments. When you are aware of all of the sexual dysfunction and longing for intimacy, you can start unpacking all of the sexual assumptions of our culture, you have an opportunity to show the world a God who cares not just about our future but the very practical part of life like our sex lives.


God made our sexual drive strong.  There is a misunderstanding that the only way to find “deliverance” from homosexuality is to become a heterosexual.   God’s first priority itsn’t about you becoming heterosexual but it is  first and foremost be about becoming a son or daughter of God in Christ.  Before the foundation of the earth, God mapped out a specific plan and purpose for all of us (Ps. 139:16).  As sons and daughters of God, we have every right to inherit what is rightfully because of what Jesus did on the cross for us.   Not only that but you are created through Christ, 


“for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see--such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16






You’re the creation. He’s the creator. 




Now that we'nswering Tough Questions on Homosexuality:


QUESTION 1:  IF God is my creator then why did God create Gay people?

This the leading question for PART 3 which is next…