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What Makes You Believe That Christianity Is the Right Religion?

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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!"

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What About Those Who Have Never Heard of Jesus?

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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:

Creation.

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.

Conscious.

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? 

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

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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.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Finally Get It All Done In A Day

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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.




PARATO YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF

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?










 

 

 

 

 

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Leading You and Your Family to Greater Spiritual Growth

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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:

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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?

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Part 2: Why I Stopped Evangelizing and Started Sharing Jesus

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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:



1.  HAVE MORE CONVERSATIONS AND LESS CONFRONTATIONS.

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/

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Part 1: Why I Stopped Evangelizing and Started Sharing Jesus

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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:



1.  HAVE MORE CONVERSATIONS AND LESS CONFRONTATIONS.

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….

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

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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?

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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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUESTION 5: SURELY A GAY RELATIONSHIP IS OK IF IT’S FAITHFUL

 

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

 

and

 

 

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…

 

 

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

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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…

 

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

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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…

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PART 1: My Friend Is gay So How Do I Relate As A Christian?

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I have had the privilege of pastoring youth and young adults over the last 20+ years.  With that comes the privilege of guiding them through their personal identity formation; young people discovering they are accepted by God as sons and daughters, even when they don’t feel like it; young people discovering that they are spiritual leaders and inspiring them to start up non-profits that are changing the world; young people discovering their role as a father and celebrating with them; young people discovering their calling; etc. Also…young people discovering that they are struggling with same sex attraction and are wondering how to navigate it.   

 

Sexual identity if one of the most formative processes in a young person’s life.   How they process their emotions, identify their feelings, construct their mindsets is a critical trajectory piece to who they become and where they go in life.  Because of this, we as spiritual leaders, families, friends and lovers of Jesus must pay special attention to how we relate in these situations.  

 

In your church, you most likely have someone in your community who is struggling with same-sex attraction or has a friend or family member who is trying to figure out how to navigate this complicated issue.  

 

How do you respond if someone you know is struggling with same sex attraction? 

 

 

Remove the “you vs them” separation 

Someone who is struggling with same sex attraction tends to get labeled as a separate breed of human being.   The fact is, God loves your friend or family member who is gay with the exact same love that God has for you.  God doesn’t love you and your straight friends more.   God doesn’t love you and your gay community less.  We are all a creation of God with a purpose to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.   I have many wonderful and celebrated Christian young people who love Jesus … and are gay.  If someone you know is gay, they aren’t disqualified from worshipping Jesus, reading the Bible or being apart of your community.  They are to be loved, encouraged and affirmed.  As the gay people in our communities fall in love with Jesus more and more, God gives margin for us to have a conversation in the midst of a desire for holy living.

 

Don’t correct but connect

With seemingly good intentions, we tend to want to correct their decision by responding with Bible verses.  News flash:  Most gay people know what the Bible says about homosexuality.  Our reaction tends to be emotional.  Some of us get mad, “How could you be like this?”  Some of us get scared, “Your eternity is in jeopardy.”  Some of us get stupid, “God didn’t make Adam and Steve, but Adam and Eve” (please don’t ever quote that to anyone ever again, ever).  This is your chance to be open, listen and affirm your relationship with your gay friend, family member, etc. They are being vulnerable with you for a reason, don’t make them regret it. They’re trusting you so be honored that they came to you to talk about this.

 

Know the difference between acceptance and approval

In life I will meet people that I may not approve of what they are doing (verbal abusers, people with bad parenting habits, those with anger management issues, etc.), but they are still accepted into my community and into my life.  You may not approve of your gay friends choices, but continuing to accept them as a friend, a brother, a sister, a father or mother should be the right way to approach your loved ones who have come out.   We tend to reject in different ways what we don't understand.   That's why contextualizing not just their "coming out" confession, but the person, their family, their present, their past, etc. will help you to understand so you can love right where you are at. 

 

Stop comparing sins

A common Christian cliché seems to be,  “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.”  Some well-meaning Christians may compare the gay lifestyle to murder, adultery, etc.  Unfortunately, in that context, you have just endorsed that who they love and how they live in the gay community is equal to them loving and living like Hannibal Lecter.  Not cool.   A “lifestyle” encompasses who you love, who you live with, who your community is, what your identity is, what your future is, etc.  Harsh comments and opinions towards the gay lifestyle run far deeper than a sin that one needs to be repentant of.  The need for patience and a long-loving journey together is far more necessary today.  Behavior modification doesn’t seem to be the answer… the loving embrace of a Jesus-centered community is the answer. 

 

Their confession must not change your relationship

Your acceptance of an individual after their confession of their struggles to you is paramount.  Affirming statements of, “I love you; God loves you; thank you for letting me in on this part of your life,” are so important for those who are struggling.  Their confession must not change your relationship with them.  You are called to love unconditionally because God’s love is unconditional.  If your love for them changes, then your love is conditional and you should be checking yourself because you’re already wrecking yourself (that’s called an ‘ole school slap in the face).  In John 4, Jesus accepted the woman and her sexual identity issues.  While everyone else rejected her, Jesus accepted her.  Not only that, but He affirmed her and called her to be a worshipper of Spirit and of truth (John 4:24) despite her brokenness.

 

If this issue was easily black and white in the church, we wouldn’t be having continued conversations, debate and fallout because of it.  We must choose to live in the context of Jesus’ words who came from heaven to dwell in the messiness of community and a broken world as found in the Gospel of John:

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

When talking with others about same-sex issues we must share, love and live between:  grace and truth.   Truth speaks up in confrontation, in teaching, and in living out what we believe. Jesus lived out truth by setting the standard and living up to it.   Truth at times is difficult, you can’t get it to change its mind, nor can you persuade it to be something other than what it is.   The truth about others and our own strengths, weaknesses, successes, failures, opportunities, and limitations is the hardest.  Truth can be painful when colliding with real-life but that’s why we need it.  

 

Grace is relationship-oriented. It opens the door for forgiveness, for acceptance for love. It is what can soften the blows of the reality of truth.  Grace equips us to live the way Christ lives.  While you are living, realize that the wonderful grace that compels you to love others is not from you but from God…so it’s not you doing it out of your own strength but from God’s.  Grace reminds us that we’re all in the same place coming from the same spot:  we need help, we need love and we need forgiveness.

 

My goal is to see ALL of God’s creation worshipping and living out grace and truth beautifully.  Even though this seems to be the most difficult topic facing the church today, God’s desire is for His people and His church to be heaven on earth…all of creation worshipping God together in unity and in perfect harmony, free of sin and distraction but healed and whole.  

Part 2  is next as we going in a theological “deep dive” on this issue…

 

 

 

 


 

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How I Haven't Come Close To Experiencing Burnout

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The idea of resting could be a lost art.  

Netflix binging is not. 

You've watched one episode and then another.  You are feeling good.  You're brain is finally shutting down.  And then Netflix asks you that deep, dark question:  "Play next episode?"  That episode is going to automatically start playing and you've only got about 15 seconds to decide what you are going to do with the rest of your life.  Your choice:  Stop watching Netflix and go become a world changer or watch one more episode.  Too late...it's already started.  

Rest comes in many forms but the best kind of rest is one that rejuvenates the body, soul and spirit.  It rekindles a fire in you again.  A Sabbath is unique because it's a God initiated and God-inspired rest that replenishes wholistically.   

The idea of a Sabbath is an idea that seems so old-school.  "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy."  That is a commandment...in case you forgot.  But it feels like a command that would work if we lived in 1803 where our lives consisted of feeding livestock, growing beans, going to blacksmith school or making bread in a stone oven all day.  

“Burnout happens when you aren’t in control of how you live out your life, when you lack relational encouragement and when you don’t tailor your responsibilities to connect to your calling.”

I don't think resting has to be so complicated and so difficult to find.  Could resting at the right times be the best leadership advice we could ever listen to?

 

 

TAKE A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO REST AND SABBATH:

 

Take 30-60 minute Sabbath 

Take 30-60 minute Sabbath in the morning to be committed to reading God's Word and having a time of prayer.  It fuels you for the day and it gives you an opportunity to invite God into your meetings and plans before they even start.  I always chose to "eat Scripture" before I eat my breakfast.  A simple discipline that keeps me on track and committed.  

+ Take a 1/2 day Sabbath each week 

Take a 1/2 day Sabbath each week to shut off your phone and email and take a Sabbath for about 2-3 hours in your week.  When I worked in Washington DC, I would take Wednesday mornings, from 9-12 and I would simply lay out my next few weeks and months before God.  I would look at it and pray through it.  I would keep my journal page open and would jot down ideas God would put in mind, Scriptures, faces of those who I felt I needed to reach out to, etc.  I would take that time to dream and pray into the plans and projects I was working on.  It was simply God leading the agenda and i simply prayed, listened and wrote down what I thought God was speaking.   Great blueprints for my ministry come from these days.  Probably one of the most effective disciplines of my career.

Take your Sabbath Day 

Take your Sabbath day and keep it holy by giving a day to God.  On this day, give Godly relationships priority, spend quality time and seek God together as a family, laugh, eat a great meal together, watch a movie, be outside...and simply do stuff that recharges you and energizes you.  Because relationships energize me specifically, I always build into my Sabbath days conversations with those who inspire me, encourage me and build me up.  If you're the opposite, build into your day downtime for just you and let those around you know this is how you recharge.  

“It was simply God leading the agenda and i simply prayed, listened and wrote down what I thought God was speaking.  Great blueprints for my ministry come from these days.  Probably one of the most effective disciplines of my career.”

Take a monthly Sabbath Day 

Once a month to consecrate your family, career and future to God.  Use this time to evaluate, think critically, make plans and be intentional.  Pray over your family and think critically about your families trajectory:  financial goals, marriage tune-ups, etc.  Use this time to lay difficult relationships before God and ask if there are any planks in your own eye.  Pray into the future plans so you can see and hear what God's heart is for you for your future.  Take time to pray for others and ask God who needs you to encourage them or pray for them.  It's here that I got retreat ideas, family values implemented, mentorship relationships established, etc.  

+ Take a yearly Sabbath retreat 

This doesn't have to be a big production.  For me, this is a "staycation" style.  I will do this every year in January.  I will take a few days to fast, walk the local parks, hit some of my favorite places that refresh me, prayer walk, hit up a another church and use their sanctuary and simply let God speak to me.  If you're feeling more ambitious, then simply go camping, get a cabin or book a hotel room so you can spend a few days away and grab a hold of God's plans and purposes for you.  

 

And the result:  I've never experienced burnout.   The fire God put in my heart is my responsibility to keep lit and for me to stay fueled (Leviticus 6:12-13).

 

Burnout is not simply a result of working a lot of hours.

 

These Sabbaths won't just magically happen.  You have to get out your phone and start right now by adding them into your calendar and guarding that time.  You have to let your family know.  If it's necessary and appropriate,  let your superiors know as well and watch your spiritual life get reignited.

 

Why Netflix binge when you can... "Sabbath Binge."

 

How do you stay refreshed and rested...share in the comment thread below.

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Less Goal-Setting and More Fruit-Bearing Part 3

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If you missed Parts 1 and 2 of our post you can check it out here…

10 Ways To Stay Inspired to stick to your goals this year: 

1. Remember it's roots before fruits  

People are quick to celebrate what they SEE a person doing but tend to forget that what was SOWN determined it's success.  We don't live in a heavily aggregate society like in the past, but the Bible is clear that what we reap, we sow (Galations 6:8).  Many keep that in a negative context but what about the hope in those words!  If you are leading an organization or a team, what you say and do will produce fruit.  If you want to see your organization have a heart to help others, then take them to places where others are hurting.  If you want to have a generous church, then talk about the power of giving, etc.  What you sow is seed that produces roots that leads to fruits.  The reality is, it's what's underground that really matters.   

2. Don't compare yourself to others because your obedience will never look the same but the blessing is guaranteed

Comparison traps are far to easy to fall into.  The more I follow others in social media, the more I find myself sizing myself up.  When we do nothing but look through the instagram lens for what God is doing through other people, we are simply getting a snapshot of their lives. Social media is a billboard, not a journal. Ministry is hard, whether it's 10 people or ten thousand.  You're called to fulfill  what God has called YOU to do...not someone else.   

3. Become better at responding to altars than making altars

That's old-school lingo to simply say, reduce the high amount of spiritual activity in your life and choose seek God first, as often as you can, when you can.  We become good at being concerned about helping others become better spiritually at the expense of neglecting our own walk with God.  Your "yes" to God's request will produce far better results for you and others than your "yes" to everybody else's requests.  A well that is dry is just a hole in the ground but a well that is full of water becomes a source of life for a whole community.  

 

 

4. In your weakest moments God is always the strongest

Your maturity is evident when your leadership becomes less how you feel and more about your faith.  We have to move beyond emotion to believe that God loves us just the same when we're at our worst and when we're at our best.  It takes faith to believe that God will use us in my least confident moments to produce a strong result to affirm our leadership.  Strength is not measured by might or power but by God's Spirit (2 Corinthians 12:9/Zechariah 4:6).  So allow your weakest moments that you are experiencing to become the strongest moments with God to produce the greatest faith you have ever seen. 

  

  

5. Be faithful...starting now

The "next" will always call out for you.  Especially if you are talented, gifted or have a platform that gets recognition.  In our culture we have a tendency to overvalue "15 minutes of fame" and undervalue faithfulness.  We curate 140 characters on twitter but don't cultivate character in our relationships.  Faithfulness is an attritbute of God.  Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit.  Opportunities are everywhere.  Success is valued but can be misleading.  Succeeding at the wrong thing could be your biggest failure.  That's why it's important to steward your "now" well because it is training and shaping for your "next."  Don't take shortcuts.  Shortcuts "cut short" the work of God on your life.   Grow where you're planted.  Become grounded and develop a root system.  I was out to dinner with a great friend this weekend and we were talking about the unseen parts of our lives are so critical and rarely celebrated.  We don't celebrate the prayer lives of others, we don't instagram our "dad diaper changes" so mom can take a few minutes breather, we don't periscope our devo lives consistently to show the world we know how to seek God, etc.  What's underground isn't as celebrated as what's on our platform.  The reality is roots precede fruits.  To bear great fruits you need great roots.  Stay grounded and focused and watch God bring your future to life.   

  

6. Discover what Refuels you and Fill up Often

Some things give you energy in life, some things drain you. Figure out what refuels you. Most likely it's not going to be what you think.   Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is watch a movie, go to a baseball game, hit up a new restaurant with friends, finally get that redox you've been wanting, take a nap, etc.  What ever fills your tank... do more of it.  

  

7. Make Your Character a Priority

Character sustains what God is building around you.    Your skills, talents and personality will take you only as far as your character can sustain you.  Choose to do the right thing no matter what...you won't regret it.  

  

8. Don’t Live in the Indecision

Living with regrets comes from bad decisions or in decision.      Bad decisions are easy to spot because you usually recognize them after you've made them.  Indecision is harder to see. Because deciding not to decide is still a decision.  This avoids living a life with regrets because you "wish you could have done something." Make the best decision you can with the information you have, then pursue it with everything you’ve got from a posture of humility. 

  

9. Book appointments with God and don’t break them

Your calendar will naturally fill up with urgent things other people believe are important.  And you will watch a decade or more pass by without doing anything really significant.  Anything done without God isn’t fruitful.  

I put appointments in my calendar that I don’t move so I keep that time with God and I don’t break them.  I use that time to seek God, pray, have my blank journal page and write down the vision, plans and purposes God has for me.  Then when someone asks you if you’re busy, you can truthfully say “I’d love to help, but I have a commitment with someone and I just can’t break it.” 

  

10. Forgive again and again

Forgive and trust again.  Don’t let what someone else did sabotage your future.  Let’ your future thrive because you chose to forgive, and move on.  The second you stop trusting people you start living a life of isolation.  And a life of isolation is a life without impact.  Not to mention…you’ll be awfully lonely. 

  

11. Deal with your issues Now

It’s easy to blame others for what’s happened to your life.  And I hate to say it, but the common factor to the issues in your life is mostly going to be you. So deal with you. You have issues. Everyone does.  You may not be able to change the other person but you can absolutely change YOU and how YOU respond to a person or situation. Give people permission to call out your "stuff."  Go have some serious conversations with those that you trust. Do what it takes to deal with your junk.  You'll hi-five your future self!

 

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Less Goal-Setting and More Fruit-Bearing Part 2

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We are talking about growing your life in 2019.  Please check out Part 1 here to catch up on what we’ve been talking about as we are starting off the new year strong.

  

To see anything growing and producing fruit, there is intentionality.  Your Life Grove won't see the fruit you are hoping for unless you are purposeful in how you are growing these specific areas of your life.  Think of each of these specific domains as areas of your life that have to go through seasons.  Just as in the natural, our lives have a winter, spring, summer and fall to harvest from, each of these areas of our lives have to go through seasons to see the fruit come and for you to flourish.  

 

So we set goals and be intentional to see the "fruit" come from our labor.  Each time we set goals a new season , each limb a goal and each fruit a result of what you have done.   Your season depends on where God has you, what your stage in life is.  For example, your fruit from your relational tree will look different when you are in the season of being a new husband than when you are in the season of being g a father of a teenager.  Just like trees have limbs that are carrying the potential fruit, think of each limb on your tree as a goal for this year.  Each limb carrying the fruit buried in it's branches that will grow and develop over time till harvest.  Finally each fruit will be the result of your hard work, spiritual disciples and forged habits over time.  

 

 

Your Life Grove is not supposed to be a struggling and languishing grove of sadness but an orchard of life where you and many are enjoying it’s fruits.


 

So begin to write down a goal from each area from your Life Grove.  Michael Hyatt says there is a study that supports how writing down goals helps us achieve them.  Gail Matthews of Dominican University of California, author of "The Effectiveness of four Coaching Techniques in Enhancing Goal Achievement",  did a study by recruiting 267 professionals from different careers:  attorney's, educators, artists, entrepreneurs, etc.  After tracking them over several weeks she discovered that writing one's goals increased achievement y 42%.   Writing them down helps you to clarify what you want, motivates you and helps you celebrate or as we would say "eat the fruit of your labor."  

 

You have heard of the SMART goal setting system:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Sensative.  I want you to see your Life Grove from a perspective and with the intention of you wanting these areas to experience GROWTH.   For you to see “growth” in your life you need to set goals.  You need to be asking yourself questions about what specifically do you want to grow in and how you will accomplish this growth in your life.  

 


For you to see your goals succeed you must haveGROWTH:  

 

 

G –  GAUGABLE 

Your goals must be measurable.  You have to know HOW your progress is being charted.  Monitoring your progress is the fun of reaching goals and it gives you incredible satisfaction.  How will you gauge your progress?  How do you notice when you've reached your goal?

 

R - RELEVANT 

Your goals must be relecant.  It’s about having your goals be in alignment with your season, your values and your vision.  These goals are meant to be relevant to the season of your life (if not, you won't see the growth your hoping for).  For example, going back to school when you just had a baby might not be the most relevant based upon your season of life.  Do your goals align with your seasons?  Do they encourage progress for you and others around you? Do they complement the demands and needs of you and others in your life?  Do they align with your values as a person, family and follower of Jesus?

 

O  - OPERATIVE  

Your goals must have a specific action step attached to it.  In other words, how will you operate your life by defining the action that you have to take to get to the result.  To have a directive to accomplish your goal is critical (for example, "be more consistent at working out" isn't operative but "run 3 days a week" is operative).  What action step is necessary to accomplish your goal?  

 

W- WELL DEFINED

The next attribute is that your goals should be specific.  You goals should be well-defined and should have focus.   The more focused and specific your goals are, the more inspiring they become.  Identify exactly what you want to accomplish (for example, "advancing my education" is too vague but "get a masters from U of M" is more specific and will make your more productive).  What exactly do you want to accomplish in this domain of your life?  

  

T - TIMED 

Your goal should have an urgency to it to finish.  Or in other words, what you want to do should have an "end date."  have to know WHEN you reach your goal.  Your goals should be time-sensitive.  It should have a deadline and a frequency.  Deadlines will force you to give it attention and action.  

 

H - HABITUAL 

What is the new habit you are defining for yourself?  Essentially you want to have an articulated routine that is memorable and doable for you to accomplish your goal.  This habit should persuade you to keep going and giving you momentum so that you continue to be personally “willing and able” to work towards this goal.   What new habit will this evoke from you to finish your goal?

 

Use this GROWTH template to set goals or “branches” for each “tree” in your life to see the fruit that you are hoping for in this season of our life.  Imagine a branch on each specific tree in your Life Grove. Just like a caregiver in an orchard goes out each day to inspect the limbs to look for the fruit, you can do the same thing. Imagine you walking through your Life Grove on a daily basis, slowly walking between the trees, inspecting the roots, admiring and branches and expecting the fruit. 

  

Each new year a new season , each limb a goal and each fruit a result of what you have done. 


Your Life Grove won't see the fruit you are hoping for unless you are purposeful in how you are growing these specific areas of your life.  Think of each of these specific domains as areas of your life that have to go through seasons.  Just as in the natural, our lives have a winter, spring, summer and fall to harvest from, each of these areas of our lives have to go through seasons to see the fruit come and for you to flourish.   

  

It’s the start of 2019, so set new goals and be intentional to see the "fruit" come from your labor.  Each new year a new season , each limb a goal and each fruit a result of what you have done.   Your season depends on where God has you, what your stage in life is.  For example, your fruit from your relational tree will look different when you are in the season of being a new husband than when you are in the season of being g a father of a teenager.  Just like trees have limbs that are carrying the potential fruit, think of each limb on your tree as a goal for this year.  Each limb carrying the fruit buried in it's branches that will grow and develop over time till harvest.  Finally each fruit will be the result of your hard work, spiritual disciples and forged habits over time.   

 

 

Now comes the exercise: 

 

 

Take out a sheet of paper. Draw 7 simple trees and label each tree with the domain names above. From there, begin thinking about each tree and what you want to see God do in each area of your life this year. Begin praying about the goal and imagine the fruit of what you want God to do in you this year. Write it down next to the tree or better yet, draw lines out from the trunk just like “limbs and write your goals on lines you’ve drawn. And watch God give you a fruitful year in 2019! 

Part 3 is next…

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Less Goal-Setting and More Fruit-Bearing Part 1

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We close out the year by saying this memorable phrase, “Happy New Year!”  Surrounded by confetti, music, food and friends, most of us celebrate the incoming new year surrounded by the people we love and with an anticipation that this year will be a “happier year.”  

 

What does it mean to have a “happy” year?  Or better yet to be happy?  Disney is known as “the happiest place on earth.”  For some of you, that means your hands in the air on Space Mountain screaming it’s a small world at the top of your lungs because you’re too macho to scream like a little girl or perhpas it’s singing “Let It Go” in your best Elsa voice with your Mickey “ears” on as you spot one of the Frozen princesses at the autograph signing while licking a frozen Mickey popsicle.   Finland is known as the happiest place on earth.  Finland’s 5.5 million residents enjoy more forest per square mile than any European country, extremely high environmental standards, and a very low threat level making it one of the most peaceful places on Earth.  Dr. Seuss’ take on happiness is to “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened” and Abraham Lincoln says, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” We want our kids “to be happy” too. 

 

I have deduced that how “happy” you view your year will depend on one key attribute:  discipline.  I have found I am most happy when I have built self-discipline in my life and forged some good habits for me to follow.  

 

 

Happiness can veer you off course. It’s so easy to be distracted, to become lethargic, to drift into apathy, to dull in your senses (ever binge-watched a season and forgot what day it was…yeah me too.). Self-discipline is passionate commitment to a mission with an equal passionate commitment to resist and advance no matter what comes against you. Sometimes you prioritize what matters most by resisting or avoiding what matters less. 

We are expected to produce fruit in life because God has given us capacity for GROWTH. 

  

Biblically speaking, self-discipline is a form of self-control.  It’s that fruit of the Spirit that restricts us from what is unhelpful or unproductive so we can focus on growing what matters most and becoming fruitful.  Self-discipline is an act of cultivation-it’s the process of GROWTH. It requires you to connect today's actions to tomorrow's results. We know this as sowing and reaping. There's a season for sowing and a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you know which is which.  “Sowing” the self-discipline of no sugar for a month will result in “reaping” the benefits of feeling good and your clothes fitting better.  This essentially works for every area of your life!

  

We are expected to produce fruit in life because God has given us capacity to grow.  This growth of our spiritual lives is dependent on soil, roots and branches.  Each of our lives are being planted, rooted and should be growing and bearing fruit.  God is an “aggregate God” who uses the metaphor of agriculture as a means of seeing our spiritual lives be significant and have meaning by remain growing.    The Bible indicates the following: 







 

Soil. 

  

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.   Ephesians 3:16-17

 


Roots. 

  

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.“  Colossians 2: 6-7

 



Branches. 

   “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

  


Fruit.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

 

 

Just as we see the fruit or the “produce” of a an apple tree for example, we see the fruit of what we are “producing” from each of these trees as areas of our life.

 

 

The soil, roots, branches and fruit of your life are connected to specific areas of growth in your life.  Let’s put these all into the metaphor of a tree.  Think of a tree having roots branches growing in the soil and bearing fruit in different seasons.  I had an apple tree in my back yard that I grew up with dropping apples all summer long.  My brother and I would pick boxes of apples and my mom would make applesauce, jam, have apple fights (the more rotten the better), etc.  We knew that every season that tree would grow fruit and we would enjoy the harvest every year. Without fail.   

 

God wants you to grow and bear fruit year after year.  That’s why we love new year’s resolutions.  They are opportunities to inspect what we have grown this past year and see the fruit of our lives.  Just as mom would look at the fruit of our apple tree, keep the good fruit and toss the bad, so do we every year around the beginning of January.  We take careful inspection of the fruit of our lives and celebrate what’s been grown and you and everyone around you shares in the reward of your good choices.  

 

 

We know the fruit by the tree.  The Scriptures are clear on that (Luke 6:44).  We can look at the fruit of our lives and we can follow the branch, connected to the trunk and down to the root.   Your life is a tree bearing fruit.  But not just one tree…but an orchard.  Your life is not just a single tree but it is actually a grove of trees.  Here’s what I mean:  we tend to organize our life into different departments or domains like work life, school life, friends, home, church, etc.  Some of these areas are interrelated and that’s obvious.  But for the purpose of this content, I’m asking you to recognize them separately.  This is a metaphor and ultimately an exercise to give certain areas of your life the attention they deserve.  These domains dictate to us how we operate, succeed and grow.  Each of these specific areas of our lives are expected to grow and prosper.  No matter what season you are in, you are already rooted in these places and are bearing fruit whether you believe it or not.   

 

We’ve identified these areas as “trees” and they collectively represent your life or in other words, your “Life Grove.”  Each of us has a Life Grove we are in charge of and are to be growing fruit in and enjoying successes. These trees each have a specific purpose that ultimately make up your collective life in Christ and are rooted in Christ.  The more we are aware of our Life Grove then the more we can set goals for growth and see our lives impact others in a greater way.   

  

I’ve identified the most common domains or trees below as “The Seven Trees of our Life Grove:”



  

Tree 1:  The Spiritual Tree 

This tree represents our spiritual life and it’s connection to God.  From our devotional disciplines, our Bible reading plans, our prayer lives...this tree is critical for all spiritual disciplines.     

  

Tree 2:  The Emotional Tree

This tree is significant for your soul’s health and prosperity.  Our emotianal health is how we think and feel so we can process our own feelings and emotions with clarity and steward them well. 

  

Tree 3:  The Intellectual Tree

Our intellectual tree is being rooted and grounded in significant ideas, processes and order.  It’s your capacity for understanding, thinking and acquiring wisdom and knowledge and how you process and order your wisdom.  What we are reading, the topics of conversations we are having and the images we are interested in all contribute to our healthy and growing intellect.   

  

Tree 4:  The Physical Tree

Plain and simple, your physical health.  How you take care of your body’s health and well-being is important for every human being.    

  

Tree 5:  The Relational Tree

This tree reflects the fruit of your relational health.  The way you are connecting to your friends, your spouse, your children, your social life and all aspects of relationships are the fruit of this tree.   

  

Tree 6:  The Vocational Tree

This is the growth of your professional life.  This tree reflects the fruit of your job, how you are influencing, the significance of your calling in your season of life, etc.    

  

Tree 7:  The Financial Tree   

This tree signifies the financial successes, generosity and security in relation to your money.   

  



Each of these areas of our lives are “producing.”  Just as we see the fruit or the “produce” of a an apple tree for example, we see the fruit of what we are “producing” from each of these trees as areas of our life.  in our lives as well.  Jesus says it best,   

  

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”  Matthew 12:33 

  

Jesus knew that our Life Grove needed to be attended to and each of these specific areas of our lives cared for so we can see growth in our lives. We are expected  to be checking our fruit and seeing what is being produced from each of our trees in our lives.  For some of us, we have noticed the relational fruit of our marriage slipping into a place of boredom.  For others, we are enjoying the intellectual fruit of our lives as we have engaged in life-giving conversations obtaining wisdom and instruction on a difficult life topic.  Some of us see the emotional fruit of our lives as we let our insecurities come to the surface causing us to believe the worst about that person and the situation or even ourselves.  Others of us see the spiritual fruit of our devotional lives flourishing as we are devoting more of our time and efforts into reading the Bible and praying more.   

  

We are expected to produce fruit in life because God has given us capacity for GROWTH.  These specific areas are not just "supposed to grow" but they are to flourish.  To flourish means to 

  

"...to be in a vigorous state; thrive; to be in its or in one's prime; be at the height of fame, excellence,influence, to be successful; prosper." -Webster  

  

When something is growing, it's vigorous development is not just hoped for but expected.  When you are rooted in Christ, GROWTH is an outcome of your connection to the Holy Spirit (Galations 5:22).  Your Life Grove is not supposed to be a struggling and languishing grove of sadness but an orchard of life where you and many are enjoying it's fruits.    

PART 2 of what does GROWTH is next….

 

 

 




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Best 18 Inspirational Moments of 2018

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It’s been a great year and 2018 is officially in the books! The New Young Christian believes in mobilizing the next generation to inspire callings restore communities and transform culture. We are a discipleship platform that focuses on personal inspiration and spiritual formation.


We love being able to take everyday encouragement and make them into bit-sized and memorable motivations to keep you running forward into the future you are dreaming about. So we have taken the top 18 inspirations that you liked the most this year and have curated them below for you.


Enjoy.



The Best 18 of 2018:


Prayer is less about moving God’s heart and more about aligning yours


Stop trying to outrun your fears and start overcoming your fears

  

Having an obsession of what people are saying about you is the fastest way to lose your obsession of what God is saying about you


Humitliy is less about your posture in front of others and more about your position in God for others


If you knew how God made you to be you would never want to be anyone else

 

It’s a lot easier to agree with the promise God gave you than it is to agree with the process you're going through

 

Your future is too big to be offended by something so small

 

Maybe you have been assigned the mountain in front of you to show others it’s movable

 

Complaining about your situation undermines faith for your situation. 

 

Don’t let someone’s personal opinion about God rearrange your personal belief in God

 

Burnout is giving out more than what you’re taking in so stop and receive because you’re to good to anyone when your fire is out

 

Make it less about busyness and more about faithfulness.

 

You don’t always need people to choose you when you have been chosen by God 

 

You just can’t forget that in your weakest moment God is always strongest

 

Partial obedience can feel good but full obedience does good

  

Success isn’t determined by comparing yourself against another person’s accomplishment but is determined by measuring your YES to God’s YES

 

You will never reach your full potential in leadership till you become yourself in leadership 

 

 Be the reason someone believes in Jesus 

 



Here’s to an exciting 2019!

Cheers!


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How To Stop Hating Your Job

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Growing up it was my job to make sure the yard was mowed.  And I had massive hay fever.  I can even one-up that: according to my allergist, I’m allergic to grass.  I hated that job.  Eventually I got a job at our local meat market and I liked it.  I never got the chance to put up one of those posters with the strips of paper at the ends that you rip off that read "Alan’s Lawn Care Service.”  Needless to say, since I worked at the butcher shop, my poster with the strips of paper with “Alan’s Bologna Service” wasn’t a hit. 

I wasn’t meant for lawn care.  Neither are you. 

Sometimes we view our careers this way.  We work jobs that we are not passionate about.  Not only that, we work careers that aren’t healthy either (family health, relational health, spiritual health, etc).  We settle for “i’m just working here to get my paycheck so I can eventually do what I truly love.”   I want to challenge that thought.

I’m convinced that our career and calling should not be separated…cannot be separated.  Strong statement coming:  Hating your current job is hating your current calling.  You are called to work.   God’s purpose for Adam was to work in the Garden.  It’s in the Garden we find out what we are made to do: 

"God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.  The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”  Genesis 1:28, 2:15

Mankind’s purpose is to “work and care” for the Garden of Eden.   Work is a precondition of Adam before the fall and not a result of the fall. The only thing that happened that affected work was that it became harder for Adam… But work was always God‘s original design.     As a matter of fact, the original word meaning for Eden is “delight.”  Your work is to lead you to grow and cultivate delight in your life.   In other words, you were created to to do work that gives you amazing enjoyment, pleasure and deep satisfaction.

Sometimes however, we can view our purpose in God's design as a “hired lawncare service" when we are doing our jobs.  Meaning, we don’t “own” our place in the Garden but simply “fill a spot to do a job” until we find our "real place" and then we take our jobs and our places seriously. 

That’s not what God intended.  God's intention is that whatever work we do, we are to be fulfilling our purpose caring and working for creation. Maybe that’s why hating your job could be one of the worst feelings you could experience.  Maybe that’s why losing your job is so devastating.  You were made for work, "delightful work” and anything short of that is falling short of God’s purpose for you and the calling for your life.  A line from John Mark Comer’s book below says this:

““Work is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. That’s what you’re looking for-the intersection between what you love and what your world needs.” ”

— John Mark Comer, from the book, Garden City

This doesn’t mean that your calling always has to be glamorous.  We tend to elevate those with the loudest voices, the greatest talent and best looks.  However for communities to thrive, God needs everyone to do their job which makes everyone's work valuable.  We need those who care for the children, deliver the mail, make the hotel beds, cook the fast food burgers, grow the crops and collect the recycle bins just as valuable.  Those who work in these industries, fields and careers are needed to work together to make a culture that we can thrive in.

“God’s intention is that whatever work we do, we are to be fulfilling our purpose caring and working for creation.”

This doesn’t mean you won’t have a "bad day" at work.  We deal with a  broken world and broken people.  So our world, our job, will be difficult at times.  However, it does mean that despite the kind of day you’re having, when you see that what you do as God's purpose for your life...what you were made to do will be meaningful, significant and bring you purpose and joy to your life.  When you walk into your job, your business, your place work...your original design and purpose is to creatively partner with God and take the world somewhere significant.  

You might be thinking, “I like what you’re saying but this doesn’t really apply to my part-time cashier job at American Eagle does it?” 

One. Stop working FOR God and start working WITH God

Here’s the point:  you are a co-laborer with God (1 Corinthians 3:9).  That means you are not working FOR God but WITH God.  That makes you a partner and partnership is critical.  It makes you an owner of your workplace because it's not a position you took but a place you are called to be in.  It makes you a lover of your co-workers because they are God's creation that you get to care for and grow.  It makes you a steward of responsibility that God has given you to make your work environment a better place because you aren't made to punch a clock or earn a paycheck.   You create systems, experiences and relationships that make others want to come back tomorrow.  Why?  Because they are seeing and experiencing Jesus. 

 

Two.  Let Your “Work Station” Become Your “Worship Station“

They see you worshipping Jesus.  The word "work" in Genesis 2 in the original Hebrew means “abad” which means…”worship.”   You were made to worship.  You are made to “create Eden” in your community.  You working is you worshipping which means you are continuing what God intended from the beginning. 

 

 Three. Stop Having A Career And Start Following Your Calling

God makes it clear that “whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).  God isn’t into separating our career from other calling but that they are one in the same.  Some of us are called to be a teacher and use our educational degree to champion the next generation.  Some of us are creative geniuses at numbers and that is your calling in life…to "work the numbers."  Some of us are burdened with a desire to serve the community or nations with non-profit work or start our own endeavor.  Some of us are called to partner with the church and work inside the church and pursue a career in the church world building and equipping leaders.  Whatever we do in life, it all works together for the good when we center ourselves on discovering our purpose and walking out that purpose authentically (Romans 8:28).

You’re challenge today:  Stop being a lawn-care service and own your yard.

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The 3 F-Words The New Young Christian Are Using Today

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Keeping up with the current “language expansion” is difficult in today’s culture. There is a need to express yourself, to be seen, to be heard and to belong. There are a few words that are describing their current reality and you should be aware of them. Maybe you are a “next-gen Christian” and I’m speaking your language. Or maybe you are leading the next generation forward and you are navigating this landscape while trying not to get lost in the wilderness of
”lit” and “turnt” and “woke.”

Tim Elmore, sociologist of culture has identified some current words that are mainstream in the next-gen that you should be aware of that The New Young Christian is using today. Check them out below:

FOMO

You know this one already: Fear Of Missing Out. This is a sentiment Generation Z has been expressing for years. Why do they have this fear? They’re on social media sites, seeing peers post pictures and videos of everything they’re doing: that best vacation ever, that best party ever, the best selfie with friends ever; you get the idea. And while we know those sentiments are not accurate, the feeling a viewer gets is they’ve just missed out on something fun. In fact, those posts ignite the notion that your life is really boring compared to everyone else. I mean—who posts photos of real life, like taking out the trash or doing homework? Generation Z gives all new meaning to the phrase: “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” When I was a teen and wasn’t invited to a party—I likely never found out about it. Today—thanks to social media—the party is broadcast and it’s “in your face” that you missed out. Obviously, it’s human nature to compare our lives to those of peers but studies show that FOMO leads to extreme dissatisfaction and has a detrimental effect on our physical and mental health: mood swings, loneliness, feelings of inferiority, reduced self-esteem, social anxiety, and increased levels of negativity and depression.

What can we do? Help them recognize that if they worry about missing out, they are likely missing what’s right in front of them—real life, real people and maybe, real conversations and satisfaction. Help them focus on what’s happening where they are.

FOBO

Here’s one that’s picking up steam: Fear Of Being Off-line. This fear is newer than FOMO, but gaining traction among adolescents. If they’re honest, many will acknowledge they actually get anxious when their phone is not beside them. It’s not so much fear of missing out on a party, as it is fear of not being connected. Teens who have a parent take their smart phone away for a day (as punishment) will frequently give their password to a friend so they can stay present on-line and keep their Snapchat streak or that convo going. I spoke to a college athletic coach recently who told me he requested his team to put their phones in a basket for the bus ride to an away game. He described the bus ride as “painfully silent” and stressful. However, on the ride home, he had them put their phones away again, and this time the players realized they could actually talk to teammates across the aisle. Imagine that. Research on Coming of Age on Screens” carried out by Crowd DNA studied the lives of 11,165 youngsters aged 13-24 across 13 countries and five continents. One take away was stunning: 70 percent of teens and young adults confess to FOBO.

What can we do? Share the neuroscience about our human need for silence. When we have margin in our day, we develop the capacity for creativity and empathy. And stress drops. After the initial “withdrawals,” students can learn to appreciate it.

FOMU

This one has grown over the last five years or so: Fear Of Messing Up. It’s brought on by the pressure kids feel to perform. It represents the increased angst students feel about failing at something—a test, a sport, a relationship, a course, a job, you name it. Sometimes the fear is so great, they won’t even start something unless they’re assured they will succeed. Unfortunately, FOMU is a symptom of a “fixed mindset.” Psychologist Carol Dweck warns us these “fixed mindsets” prevent people from taking risks, from learning and from growing in new areas. It often shows up in the phrase: “If I can’t win, I won’t even try.” Or, “If I am not the best, I won’t even play.” It’s so sad, because so many American teens envision themselves as entrepreneurs, while simultaneously being risk-averse. These two realities don’t go together. Without knowing it, both parents and faculty have created this FOMU, by pressuring them to make the grade, make the team or make the cut. We wanted them to be excellent but too many misinterpreted us and assumed we meant perfection.

What can we do? Take the pressure off and let them be human. Remind them that you got a few “average” grades in school and didn’t excel at everything you tried. Remind them that our greatest lessons come from failure. Growth should be the goal.

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How To Get Your Confidence Back

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No matter who you are, there is one thing many of us will have in common with everyone else:  we all have experienced moments we have lost our confidence.  That moment when we felt like we weren't going to succeed.  That moment when we thought that "someone else should be doing this...not me."  That moment when we suddenly realize that "I don't believe in myself...I can't do this."  Some of these moments are fewer and farther in between than others but every leader has or will experience moments in their lives where they don't trust themselves in a moment.  Confidence lost. 

 

So if you lost some of your confidence or want to grow in confidence then consider the following:

 

TRUST THE RIGHT SOURCE

Let's define confidence for a moment by defining what it is not.  Confidence is not arrogance.  There is a difference.  Arrogance is an overbearing pride and extreme self-importance.  Confidence is a trustworthy reliance and belief in someone.   The word "confidence" has a word embedded in it that is critical to being confident.  It's the word, "confide."  True Biblical confidence is found when we place our trust, reliability and confide in Christ.  It’s easy for people, especially driven people, to put their trust in their network, their title, their paycheck, their personality, etc.  But the second we lose any of those, we lose our confidence as well. When we intentionally put yourselves in the presence of Christ, when we are vulnerable with our fears and insecurities, when we place our trust back into God’s hands and take it out of our hands...that's when confidence strengthens in full force.  Practically speaking, the more you are in God's presence, reading God's word and speaking regularly to God, letting God fill you, letting God inspire you...the more confident you will be.  

Confidence is not what You do with God but what God does with you...so don’t limit God by your insecurity.

 

 

BECOME SECURE IN WHO YOU ARE

I think we lack confidence when we see someone else doing it better, bigger and stronger.  The biggest killer of confidence is comparison.  So our response is, "I'm just going to be myself and they can take it or leave it."  Although a brave statement, confidence isn't found in just securing yourself in your personality.  Knowing who you are is the result of confidence but not the starting place of true Biblical confidence.  Confidence is being secure in God's will which is both "who you are" and "what you do."  God's will is about you first "becoming" the right person first, then "doing" the task second.  Who you are will always precede what you do.  When you stop comparing yourself to others and cease striving to have someone else's calling but be yourself according to how God made you and love what God is wanting you to do with your life, your confidence will conquer.  The minute I start depending on what others think of me is the minute I start doubting what God can do with me.  Depend on God and listen to what God says about you instead of what others ssay about you.  Some of the most confident moments you'll experience in your life is when you are most secure in Christ's definition of who you are and what He's called you to do.  

 

When we intentionally put yourselves in the presence of Christ, when we are vulnerable with our fears and insecurities, when we place our trust back into God’s hands and take it out of our hands...that’s when confidence strengthens in full force.

 

TRUST GOD MORE AND YOURSELF LESS

The root of confidence is going to be where you put your trust?  Pride says, "I got this."  Confidence says, "God's got this."  Biblical confidence is rooted in obedience to what GOD is calling you to do.  Pride is rooted in arrogance to what YOU are wanting to do.  The Bible asks a question of "why so down and lacking confidence, put your trust in God" (Psalm 42:5).  WHO you put your trust in determines HOW you progress forward.  Whether you realize it or not, God trusts you more than you trust yourself.  You are called to do great things.  That's not a leadership cliché’ but a truth from Jesus who reminded us, "Greater things you will do because I go to the Father" (John 14:12).  I think that's why I love James and John arguing over who is greatest in the Kingdom (Luke 9:46).  Basically "who is more awesome...me or you?"  was the argument Christ had to settle.  Notice Jesus didn't shut them down for their confidence but simply asked them if they had what it takes to do the big thing God called them to do.  Spending time with Christ on a regular basis allows Him to bring the greatness in you to the surface for you to discover but it also He brings the confidence to do what God is calling you to do.  


The messages of what others say about you is no match for the mind of Christ in you.  

 

GUARD AGAINST OPINIONS

Don't let other people's opinions chip away at your confidence.  They may not sabotage your confidence 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 everyhewere.  If you live only by other people's opinions you won't be confident.   The reality is a 100 opinions of others on how great you are to "build your confidence" doesn't compare to the weight of only God's opinion on who you are.  The messages of what others say about you is no 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).  



 

The biggest killer of confidence is comparison.

SECURE YOURSELF

Insecurity always shows up I a person’s life.  It can possibly be disguised but it can’t be hidden.  I have found a direct correlation between my security in my relationship with Jesus and my security with other people.  If I'm insecure in my relationship with God then I will be insecure with my relationships with others. On the other hand ... the more secure I am with God the more secure and confident I will be in moving forward in God's plan for my life.   Remember, “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength”. You can do all He calls you to do, because He will equip you for His call – and strengthen you when you need strength most. If you are facing insecurity in leadership, remember “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).  Insecurity is when I'm focused on what others think about me but security is when I'm focused on what God thinks about me.  The more I am anchored in God’s “yes” for my life, then the more When you truly find out how God made you to be...you will never want to be anyone else or do anything else.

 

I have found a direct correlation between my security in my relationship with Jesus and my security with other people. 

 

BE ON THE OFFENSIVE

Leaders who are lacking confidence are protective of their performance.  They are sensitive about their positions.  They are constantly aware of others authority and try to control others around them to protect their position, performance an auithority.  Leader’s who want to grow in their confidence move from a posture of defensiveness to an offensive position.  Confidence leaders  celebrate others performance and champion them forward.  Insecure leaders see their significance as “God’s gift to their community or organization” but confident leaders see their “positions as a gift to their company” and try to have their department and relationships be supportive to each other.  Confident leaders hold an offensive posture by giving authority and responsibility away to others allowing the community to celebrate their “collective” potential.   

 

FIND INSPIRATION FROM OTHER CONFIDENT PEOPLE

Seek wisdom from other leaders who have gone before you.  I love that the Bible is full of leaders who were felt unqualified and who were lacking the skills and education to do the job.  When I feel overwhelmed or insecure, I read the stories like those of Gideon, Moses, Joseph, David, or Joshua repeatedly to supply me with great encouragement.)  Find knowledge from mentors who are farther down the road than you.  Read books on topics that interest you and from authors you want to mimic of learn from. Up your education.  Join a network.  The more you grow in information the more competent you will feel in your role.

 

DISCOVER GOD’S PERSPECTIVE

Insecurity rearranges everything you see and hear in leadership. So maybe the chaos you're experiencing as a leader in your organization, family, etc is because you are listening to the wrong voices or you are focusing your eyes on the wrong things. If God holds everything together then being held by God means and with God and in God means you should be the most secure person so a lack of confidence could mean that you were feeling out of the grip and hand of God.  Focus on Christ and experience your foundation becoming firmer.  

 

Confidence is not what You do with God but what God does with you...so don't limit God by your insecurity.  When God affirms you it's not for just for a moment but to put you in a place of extreme security in Him. Confidence is what sustains you.  

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