Because we’re family

The Kingdom of God is an upside down Kingdom from beginning to end.

And I struggle as a young person to wrap my head around these upside down commands because nothing about our world is about putting others first.

The worlds says, “Me first!” and the Kingdom says, “Me last!” 

Check out Romans 12:10 in these 3 translations:

NLT: Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

ERV: Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give yourself.

MSG: Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

We are to love everyone like they are our brothers and sisters. This makes sense when you think about it because there are only two types of people in the world: Those who are already our family in Christ and those we want to see become our family in Christ.

My favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 5:16. 

 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

Evangelism is not about us versus them. Outreach is not about being a bully and forcing Jesus down someone’s throat.

I can’t get away from these thoughts…

I am not sharing the gospel to get ahead.

I am not seeking a platform to build “my ministry.”

 Evangelism has absolutely NOTHING to do with my advancement and absolutely EVERYTHING to do with showing someone else the path to redemption. 

The path of humility is all about taking jealousy and the need to get ahead off the table.

We’re on this journey together.

We’re growing together.

We’re serving together.

You’re not more important than me and I’m not more important than you because we’re family. 

 

 

 

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Just keep asking

“I’m just going to keep asking if I can help. Who knows? One day the answer might be yes.”

After the Boiler Room I was teasing one of my friends–a mom with two young kids–about her not accepting my requests to help ferry things to her car. 

She’s never really needed my help because her husband is great at taking care of that kind of stuff–which is awesome btw. 

It got me to thinking…

There’s nothing wrong with sticking your neck out after being turned down by whoever you’re trying to help. 

Just keep asking. 

Just keep being a friend. 

I truly believe that’s one of the biggest reasons most Christians aren’t making disciples like we should be. 

Most of us give up way too fast on people. 

Most of us have bought into the lie of microwave evangelism when evangelism and discipleship is more akin to a crock pot. 

It takes time. 

I’ve spent a lot of time in different communities where trust is everything. 

You have to show up and keep your word. When you don’t, you better fess up fast because the people can smell a phony a mile away. 

This kind of intentional lifestyle of service is refining; think about it like sand paper that takes off the rough edges. It demands absolute sincerity. 

And it’s truly the most worthwhile way to live. 

I am a better person and Jesus follower because of this demand to slow down, to take off my mask. 

Going back to what I said earlier, never stop asking how you can help. 

Being available to serve is a foundational teaching within the gospel. If Jesus’ mission was to serve and not to be served, then that’s our mission too. 

Be unrelenting in your pursuit to help, to pray, to encourage. 

You might get turned down 9 times out of 10. 

You might get cussed out. 

You might be misunderstood. 

Just keep asking. 

Because your quest to serve will provide opportunities to share the love of Christ in ways you could never orchestrate on your own. 

A Redeemed Mind

I found some old history papers from college. Lots of memories came back! 

The rush of reaching the page requirements and thinking of the most academic way of saying something without sounding too boring.

What I remembered most is how much I enjoyed writing those papers. Every paper was an adventure–and I never minded the research, either. 

All of that reading and digging…

I was stretched in many ways during college, ways that I often miss now that I’ve graduated.

Of course, Rhema presents it’s own challenges. My spirit man is getting a real workout! The coolest thing is seeing how my time in a more “academic” setting is helping me now that I’m in Bible school.

The mind and the spirit are powerful when used together. 

Many don’t see it this way, but it’s true. It reminds me of a quote by R.C. Sproul:

An unlearned Christian is no match for a learned skeptic. 

Christians must be able to accurately discuss what they believe with others.

Notice that I didn’t say defend because I don’t believe it’s our job to defend the Scriptures. They have stood the test of time and can defend themselves. 

For the most part, people aren’t attacking the Bible–they just want you to explain it to them.

Most Christians, however, are quite terrible at engaging in conversations about their beliefs. They don’t know the scriptures, are not well read, and are downright mean in their approach to healthy discussions about faith. 

You can be a learned Christian and not:

  • Carry around a large family Bible
  • Talk in esoteric terms
  • Go to Bible school or seminary

 

Christians need to know that they don’t have to check their brains at the door when they accept Christ. 

No, no! Your redeemed mind is a valuable asset in the Kingdom of God.

 

Gospel Centered Living

I enjoy a lot of things:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Comedy
  • Music
  • Movies
  • Bacon
  • Coffee

I could keep going…

But nothing has my heart like Jesus has my heart. 

He is my Rock, my stability, my joy, and my greatest love. 

Knowing Jesus doesn’t require you to be stripped of your personality, either. Jesus is not the ultimate stick in the mud like many preach about. 

In fact, it’s the exact opposite. When I came to know Jesus everything about me just made sense. 

The things that I’m most passionate about took shape in ways that at one time eluded me. 

And that’s because Jesus became the center of it all. 

His statement to us is simple:  

Can I come along with you? Let’s go on adventures together. 

Gospel centered living isn’t hard when you realize that Jesus, the perfect embodiment of the gospel, lives and breathes within His children. 

He’s with us as we live our everyday lives. 

It’s Jesus’ desire for us to use every means available–our time, resources, and talents–to share the gospel. 

Good thing there’s different personalities in the Church, right? All of us have different interests for a bigger purpose.

Take Jesus with you as you’re pursuing every dream and desire He’s planted in your heart. 

I encourage you to let words of redemption and hope, the same words that changed your life, be prominent in your speech and lifestyle. 

Reading and Hope

There’s a little girl who comes to Thursday Night Lights who has captured my heart. 

We’ve talked about Joan before (I’ve changed her name) but seeing her this week gave me an idea…

She’s out of school for the summer, so I know Joan spends most of her time alone. 

Several weeks ago, I was given some books by a friend who moved back to Shreveport, Louisiana. Many of them were young adult fiction books. 

I asked Joan if she likes to read and she does! Next Thursday I’m bringing her a few books. 

Joan’s 11, which is around the time my own love of reading took off. I bet Joan will have the same experience. 

No matter how bleak the circumstances, the settings of a good book draw you in.

 I’m not recommending reading as a method of escapism, but more as a method of seeing that there’s a world beyond your circumstances. 

Imagination is a powerful force. 

My hope for Joan is that she doesn’t look at her circumstances and think, “This is it.”

Obviously, a relationship with Jesus is what Joan really needs. And I plan on talking with her more about that. 

I just remember how much reading impacted my life as a child. 

If you live in the Tulsa area and have some books you’d like to see go to a good cause, I have some friends who would greatly appreciate your generosity. 

Kudos to Mother Teresa

I was 7 years old when Mother Teresa died, yet her life is one that has inspired generations. 

She embodied the gospel. 

Loving others like Christ loves them, especially the poor, was something she took literally. 

In fact, the work she started all those years ago is still going on!

I don’t want to be Mother Teresa (because that’s kind of silly don’t you think? To not be yourself–the person God created.)

But I want to take the gospel literally like she did. 

I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a lost and dying world. 

I want to see myself as serving Jesus Himself when I help the poor, the sick, the widow, and the orphan (check out Matthew 25).

Mother Teresa’s example is the epitome of selflessness. 

The coolest thing to me is that she never set out to be famous or to be known world wide as a leader of Christian charity. 

She just started following Jesus. 

And others thought she was doing such a great job they wanted to help her out. 

Mother Teresa’s ideas spread because they weren’t her ideas–they were Jesus’ ideas! 

She decided to take the Bible literally and it changed the world. 

Confessions of an Overthinker

I’m a serious over-thinker….

It can be a problem sometimes because I’ll take a situation, slice it into a thousand different pieces, and then analyze each slice until I know how I think/feel about the subject.

This is not conducive to moments when a decision just has to be made. 

We should all be able to give an answer for what we believe–that’s biblical btw–but over-analysis paralysis keeps us from being useful to anyone.

You know the old saying “He/She is too heavenly minded to be any earthly good”? 

This is what happens when someone falls victim to over-analysis paralysis.

 

This is why I love to read and study all of the older creeds and catechisms. It lays out what’s important to know and even gives you verses to review. 

Seems simple enough, right?

I know there are folks who don’t like all of that “older” “more traditional” church documents, but I’m not really sure why not.

A quick Google search will tell you the history of the creeds–Apostles, Nicene, Heidelberg, Athanasian–and each one was written to combat heresy and false doctrines from infiltrating the church.

The Westminster Catechism (both the original and shorter version) were written as a way to teach children and new converts the basic beliefs of Christianity. 

Good Bible doctrine and basic hermeneutics are necessary (no matter what all the hip, “relevant” people tell you).

Studying these ancient truths isn’t about learning a lot of $5 words and becoming a Bible scholar who can’t even carry on a normal conversation.

It’s about having a good, solid foundation of what and why you believe what you do.

And it keeps you from going absolutely batty from overthinking things. (Or maybe it’s just me that struggles in this area…)